Sanath Jayasuriya, Sri Lank's chief selector, has said that the side's ODI series loss in India is "a bad dream" and he expects the side to bounce back in the forthcoming matches against England. Sri Lanka will host England for a seven-match ODI series, which starts in Colombo from November 26.
Jayasuriya admitted that a second-string bowling attack and the inability of the top order to score big runs were the main factors behind the heavy defeats in India.
"I was not expecting miracles for Sri Lanka to win the series in India and all that kind of thing. What I expected was good, competitive cricket," Jayasuriya said. "If we are to play competitively, somebody had to bat a long innings like the Indian batsmen were doing. One of the top four needed to bat for 40 overs. Unfortunately it didn't click, set batsmen got out. Overall, it was not the best performance but it's a good experience for us.
"The full strength of our bowlers was not there. We got the second-string bowlers for the series. It's not easy bowling in India, we all know that. We had to give those bowlers the exposure one day, otherwise we would never get a chance. With injuries to so many bowlers, we had to put them in.
"India is a bad dream and it is not the first time we have gone through a series like this. People will criticise and say a lot of things about the team that we should not have gone to India and all that. If we had done well everyone would have said that was a good experience for the team. It can happen either way."
According to Jayasuriya, the series defeat could end up as a blessing in disguise coming before a World Cup as the team still had ample time to improve their performances and start peaking in time for the tournament in February-March 2015.
"It is not only the cricketers but all of us have to take the blame for the Indian defeat," he said. "We can't push the players into a corner, this is the time we need to support them. The entire country needs to support them.
"This defeat in a way before the World Cup is like a blessing in disguise. Going through a bad patch I don't mind that because there are 90 more days to go. If the team can start peaking from the England and New Zealand series till the end of the World Cup, that would be ideal."
"Going through a bad patch I don't mind that because there are 90 more days to go. If the team can start peaking from the England and New Zealand series till the end of the World Cup that would be ideal." Sanath Jayasuriya
Jayasuriya was hopeful the team could recover from the negative impact of the India series before their matches against England: "There will be some negativity after the losses but history shows that we have gone to India and got thrashed and have come back and done well most of the time. We need to get our confidence back from here onwards and have an idea of what the World Cup squad is going to be."
One of the areas Sri Lanka will be looking to address before the World Cup is the second opener's slot. Upul Tharanga and Kusal Perera have been tried as opening partners for Tillakaratne Dilshan but have not done well. Mahela Jayawardene's recent statements, expressing his desire to open the innings, has also added another dimension to the issue.
"We have discussed a few things recently with the captain, coach and we need to come up with a plan and implement it in such a way that it will be beneficial for the team till the World Cup," Jayasuriya said.
He also stated that developing the part-time bowling skills of batsmen was a key area to fill the gap of the fifth bowler in the side, allowing Sri Lanka to play a seven-batsmen-four-bowlers combination.
"We don't have batsmen who can also bowl a few overs," he said. "During my time, I used to bowl, there was Aravinda de Silva and Kumar Dharmasena. This is the issue we have in the middle - the batsmen who can bowl a bit.
"We can go with seven batters and four bowlers if we have someone to perform the role of fifth bowler. At practice, players like Dilshan and Ashan Priyanjan need to concentrate and bowl a little bit more so that they will be able to play the role of fifth bowler."