Mathews blames sloppy fielding for another defeat
Three catches were dropped during the innings - two of them off top-scorer Solomon Mire - as Sri Lanka failed to defend a target of 317
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews
has once more blamed the loss to Zimbabwe on poor fielding, after his team failed to defend a target of 317. Three catches were dropped during the innings - two of them off top-scorer Solomon Mire.
Dropped catches have plagued Sri Lanka for about two years now, but the problem has seemingly reached a nadir in 2017, when chances have been missed almost every match - most memorably in the Champions Trophy earlier in the month, where bad fielding
cost Sri Lanka a spot in the semi final.
"Poor performance by the bowlers and fielding once again let us down," Mathews said after the match. "We dropped crucial catches at crucial moments. Can't say that enough. We have trained extremely hard on fielding, but it's just that in critical occasions we keep dropping catches, which costs us the game."
Mire was initially dropped on 17 by wicketekeeper Niroshan Dickwella, who failed to hold a tough chance off the bowling of Amila Aponso, then was dropped again on 94 - Lasith Malinga this time failing to hold a straightforward catch, running back from short fine leg. The straightforward catch spilled off Sean Williams by Danushka Gunathilaka at point was also costly. The partnership between Williams and Mire had been only 37 at the time, and they would subsequently go on to make a match-turning 161 together. Gunathilaka has generally been a good fielder during his time in the national team.
"The pressure gets to the guys sometimes," Mathews said. "When someone is under pressure and when the catches come, we miss them. But pressure is something that you deal with day in and day out. We train extremely hard. It's disappointing to see the best of fielders dropping catches."
Sri Lanka have only about 40 hours to make improvements to their game, with the second ODI scheduled to be played on Sunday.
"We have so many young guys in the team and we need to get the attitude and intensity right when it comes to fielding. Today it was very poor. We have to address it quickly as we have only one day and then we have to come back and win on Sunday. We need to have a shift in mindset to stop runs and take those catches."
Mathews also believed the score of 316 for 5 was plenty. Before today, no target greater than 300 had ever been chased down in Sri Lanka, nor had Zimbabwe ever defeated Sri Lanka on the island. Mathews suggested the next game could see a changed attack.
"The bowlers weren't up to the mark. On this wicket 316 was a good score. The bowlers didn't do well and I have to talk to the selectors about the next game."
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando