Batting collapses 'a bit of a concern' for Sri Lanka

"We were planning how we can get to 240 or 250 and back our bowling to defend it," says batting coach Naveed Nawaz

Dimuth Karunaratne fell early after Sri Lanka were sent into bat, Scotland vs Sri Lanka, ICC World Cup Qualifier, Bulawayo, June 27, 2023

Sri Lanka were all out for 213 against Netherlands and 245 against Scotland  •  ICC via Getty Images

Yes, okay, Sri Lanka's batting is pretty poor by big-boy-ODI standards. We have heard the arguments. The dot-ball percentages aren't great. The top order gets out too early too often. And 300-plus scores just aren't their thing against good bowling.
In the World Cup Qualifier, though, their bowlers have kept proving themselves. Wanindu Hasaranga has rocked it. Lahiru Kumara was good (until he got injured). And Maheesh Theekshana may be the most consistent bowler Sri Lanka have.
Together, they've refused to allow an opposition to score 200.
On Friday, it's like DJ Khaled says: Another One.
Netherlands were chasing 214; they were all out for 192.
"Throughout the tournament we have managed to keep every side under 200 so far," this is Sri Lanka batting coach Naveed Nawaz extolling his team's bowlers, because what else can he do when he has been sent to a press conference in a match in which the batters have kinda tanked.
"The bowling has been good since the start of the tournament," Nawaz said. "When things went bad at the top end, we were planning how we can get to 240 or 250 and back our bowling to defend it. Looking at the start from where we were, 213 is a good score. We would always back our bowling to defend it."
Would he always? I guess we have to take his word for it. In the last two matches, and perhaps in general over the past couple of years, the bowlers have bailed the batting out.
Nawaz thinks it might happen more often in this tournament from now, especially in Bulawayo.
"The square looks a bit tired now as well, and wickets are going to get slower," he said. "The side that adapts well to the conditions and holds their nerve will have a better chance of coming out well at the end."
But Sri Lanka are not beyond admitting there are problems. In the last match they were dismissed for 245 against Scotland. Even though the surfaces were sluggish, neither seemed like an imposing total.
"It's a bit of a concern that twice in a few days our batting has collapsed," Nawaz said. "Once [we collapsed] at the top, and once in the middle. We'll have to regroup. We'll have to sit down, talk about it and see how we're going to come back in the next game."
Sri Lanka's spinners have frequently been lead actors in the bailout crew. In this tournament, Hasaranga is by a distance the highest wicket-taker so far, with 20 dismissals to his name at an average of 10.55. In this match, he took 2 for 53.
Theekshana helped to turn the match too. He took 3 for 31, and has nine wickets at 18.55 in the tournament.
"The two of them have been bearing a lot of responsibility in our team," Nawaz said of Hasaranga and Theekshana. "They've borne it well through the course of this tournament so far."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf