Sri Lanka dominant but captain looks for improvement
Despite his team claiming a comprehensive six-wicket win over Zimbabwe in the opening ODI, the Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene is still looking for improvement.
The visitors had an easy stroll in the park and only needed 33.2 overs to chase a paltry 127 set by Zimbabwe who were earlier blown away by Muttiah Muralitharan, the Man of the Match.
"Winning games at this stage is always important and it does not matter who you are playing against," Jayawardene said. "It was, however, not a good performance from our players and we were looking for a much better standard than what we showed today. I think we should have bowled them out for a much [smaller] score than 127."
Jayawardene also paid tribute to Muralitharan for his match-winning spell. "It's not only today that he was outstanding with the ball. It is always a good option to have Murali in the team because he can come in any situation and completely turn things around in our favour. Murali was the main difference in this match because Zimbabwe were looking good."
At 124 for 3, with Tatenda Taibu and Stuart Matsikinyeri still at the crease, it seemed Zimbabwe would set a challenging target, perhaps even as high as 250. But Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis were brought into the attack, blitzing the Zimbabwe middle and lower order. They lost five wickets in 12 balls.
Prosper Utseya, the Zimbabwe captain who yesterday said Muralitharan was "not as effective" as he once was, conceded they had underestimated his impact. "We need to revisit our technique in the next matches because we have learned a lot of things from this one," he said. "Although Murali got four wickets I think we were coping with his turn.
"Looking at the match Taibu and Stuart were in control of the situation and if only they had continued in that same vein maybe we would have got a huge total. If we revisit our technique we will be in a better position to counter him in the next game."
The second of five ODIs gets underway on Saturday.