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'We did not play our A-class game': Jayawardene

Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lankan captain, is looking forward to a disciplined performance from his bowlers in the remaining qualifying matches of the Champions Trophy after making a winning start.
Sri Lanka beat Bangladesh by 37 runs in the opening qualifier under lights here on Saturday, but their bowling left a lot to be desired. They conceded 36 extras, the second-highest contributor in Bangladesh's total of 265 for 9, after posting a challenging 302 for 8. Their bowlers sent down 13 wides and six no-balls.

"We did not play our A-class game and there are certain areas where we have to improve and we will do that in remaining games," said Jayawardene. Sri Lanka play Zimbabwe at Ahmedabad on October 10 and defending champions West Indies on October 14 at Mumbai in their last two qualifying matches. The top two sides will advance to the main draw that features world champions Australia, England, India, South Africa, New Zealand and Pakistan.

Jayawardene said his team did not perform up to the mark in the opening game because they had not played much international cricket in recent months. They played their last full one-day international three months ago. "We didn't play a smart game, especially in the second half of their innings but we have not played many one-dayers recently and that was one of the reasons why we were not able to perform to our potential."

He didn't blame the dew for his bowlers' below-par performance when they fielded under lights at the Punjab Cricket Association stadium. "The dew came on only around 8.30pm and by that time the spinners had nearly bowled their overs," he said. "We have to expect such things in day-night matches. I think it is good that we fielded in the evening. It will give us an idea what to expect in remaining matches."

Habibul Bashar, the Bangladesh captain, defended his decision to field first after winning the toss, saying his bowlers failed to make the most of conditions in early stages. "It was a good toss to win," he said. "There was grass on the wicket, but we didn't put the ball in the right areas in the opening 10 overs."

Seamers Mashrafe Mortaza, Syed Rasel and Farhad Reza failed to get early wickets and went on to concede 188 runs in 28 overs. "In the end, the target proved too high for us," said Bashar, whose team still managed to post their highest-ever total against Sri Lanka in 18 one-day internationals.

Jayawardene, however, said he would have batted first had he won the toss. "It was a good wicket to bat on. I think it is always better to set a target when you play against teams like Bangladesh."

Bangladesh will now meet the West Indies on October 11 and Zimbabwe on October 13 at Jaipur.