Sri Lanka's batting coach Marvan Atapattu has blamed a lack of application from the Sri Lanka batsmen for the team's poor performance in the ongoing ODI series against Australia. Australia took an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series after they beat the hosts by five wickets in the fourth ODI in Colombo on August 19.
"The batting is pretty disappointing, no doubt about it," Atapattu said. "It's more to do with application [rather] than anything else. We know the potential that we have, but we have not gone all the way to show what we are made of.
"It's consistency in application that we lack. Apart from one or two batsmen, it has nothing to do with technique or anything like that. It's more to do with application."
Sri Lanka have failed to bat out their 50 overs in the three games they have lost and were bowled out for just 132 on Sunday, which disappointed Atapattu. "Being ranked No. 2 [Sri Lanka were ranked second in the ICC rankings for ODI teams at the start of the series] we should be doing much more than what we have. It is disappointing to see the personnel in the team and their performances. We look at the team and say this is one of the best batting line-ups in the world; although we are playing against the No. 1 [ODI] team, we as a batting unit believe that we are much more capable than this."
Upul Tharanga, the leading run scorer for Sri Lanka in the series so far, is the only top-order batsman for the hosts to average above 40. Captain Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene have all struggled for consistency, with none of them averaging above 37. "The problem we have is that it is only the same two or three batsmen who are always contributing. The pressure on these batsmen is more. What we are trying to do is get the rest of the batsmen to also contribute."
Atapattu said that batsman Dinesh Chandimal, who was dropped from the squad after the first three ODIs, had some technical issues that needed to be resolved. "Chandimal has changed a bit since he got his last fifty in Manchester. There is nothing wrong with his hitting - he is a fantastic hitter of the ball; probably the best in the country today. He needs to fine-tune certain areas before he faces a good bowling attack like Australia's next time around."
Sri Lanka's batting line-up has undergone changes in recent times: Thilina Kandamby who was vice-captain on the England tour was dropped for the Australia series, while, along with Chandimal, allrounder Thisara Perera was dropped after the first three games against Australia. Atapattu suggested the changes were not helping but said the batsmen in the side should be delivering.
"It is the duty of the captain and me as batting coach to make the best use of the batsmen selected in the squad. There is a lack of consistency in the batting line-ups we have been given; but we don't have any control over that. The players who are in the squad should make the runs. The reason for not reaching even a total of 200 [in the fourth ODI] is because the batsmen failed to contribute.
"My personal opinion is to give as much opportunities to a player and if he doesn't perform to expectations then we will have to look at another potential player and give him similar opportunities, but we must have patience with them. If we keep on changing players from day to day we will remain in the same position always. We cannot expect to produce an Arjuna [Ranatunga], Aravinda [de Silva], Hashan [Tillakaratne] or Roshan [Mahanama] overnight - it will take some time. Until such time we have to be patient. If we don't get the expected results from the present crop of players then we will have to adopt that policy [of giving new players opportunities]."
The final ODI will be played in Colombo on Monday which will be followed by three Tests in Galle, Pallekele and Colombo.