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Ford hopes for improved bowling display

Graham Ford, Sri Lanka's head coach, has said his bowlers' lack of experience in high-pressure situations was exposed during the first T20I in Pallekele AFP

Two days after his team was ravaged by Glenn Maxwell's 65-ball 145 not out, Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford was mulling over how Maxwell might be neutralised in the last match of the tour. It was Australia's middle order that had largely troubled Sri Lanka during the ODIs, but with David Warner and Maxwell now having scored hundreds in the two most recent games, Sri Lanka will have to contend with in-form openers as well.

Sri Lanka's attack will also have to make dramatic improvements since their last outing, in which each of the five main bowlers conceded at least 11.25 runs an over.

"In the first T20, there were a lot of balls that were in the areas that Maxwell would want them to be in," Ford said. "We didn't execute properly. We didn't have a superstar like Lasith Malinga in our attack, or someone with more experience. We've thought about a few ways of going about our business differently, but once again it's about execution."

Sri Lanka had also conceded the highest T20 total ever, thanks, in part, to an abundance of full-tosses and long-hops. They played three specialist bowlers for the first time in the limited-overs series, but none could stem the flow of boundaries, as a full house watched on in Pallekele.

"I was surprised by the lack of ability to stay out of trouble on a good batting wicket, which is the art of T20 bowling," Ford said. "Some of our bowlers are very inexperienced. We unfortunately don't get exposed to high-pressure T20 games that much. The [domestic T20] competition here is played in front of no crowd at all. In comparison, ten out of the 11 Australians play the IPL, and they all play the Big Bash League. So the occasion gets to young and experienced bowlers. To practice your skills is one thing but to execute it under enormous pressure is another."

Though Ford stressed Sri Lanka's own mistakes, he did laud Maxwell's hitting prowess. Both Maxwell's international hundreds have now come against Sri Lanka. He made his ODI ton against them in Sydney, during last year's World Cup.

"If you look at Maxwell's career, on his day, even the best of bowlers can't contain him. He had a fantastic day out. The pressure that he creates when he is hitting the ball that well leads to bowlers bowling those loose deliveries. It's about pressure. He has gone out and hit the ball amazingly well and hopefully he will not do well again.

"Lance Klusener was a fantastic striker of the ball, but he probably had a couple of areas that he targeted. He wasn't a player who scored 360 degrees like Maxwell."

Friday's match is Tillakaratne Dilshan's final outing as an international cricketer, and the tickets for the game have been sold out for weeks. Dilshan had a quiet match in Pallekele, where he was dismissed for 4, didn't bowl, and did not take any catches.

"Look, Dilshan has been a wonderful man," Ford said. "He had just lost the captaincy when I first got involved with the team. He came to Australia and played amazingly well and really committed to the team's cause. I have had wonderful support throughout from him.

"It's wonderful to have his energy and commitment and the vast knowledge that he passes on. It's very sad to see such a legend of the game finally calling it a time. For me it's a privilege to have been involved, been able to witness his exploits first-hand. He can be extremely proud of what he has done over the years, and certainly goes down as one of the greats of the game."