Charith Asalanka: Team and coaches 'all emotional' after loss

'We're a young team. We haven't won much recently, and we're trying to do our best to play together for our country'

Charith Asalanka lunges forward to sweep, Sri Lanka vs India, 2nd ODI, Colombo, July 20, 2021

Charith Asalanka top-scored for Sri Lanka with 65  •  ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images

After a stretch of losses, Sri Lanka had an ODI victory in their grasp, but let it slip. For a team low on confidence, it had to have been devastating. Batter Charith Asalanka, who had top-scored for Sri Lanka with 65, described what it was like to see the opposition's eighth-wicket partnership take the game away.
"We're all emotional - the team and coaches are all emotional," he said. "We're a young team. We haven't won much recently, and we're trying to do our best to play together for our country. Everyone tried hard and took it to the final over, but unfortunately we couldn't win."
This ended up being Sri Lanka's ninth loss in 10 completed matches in 2021, but at the 40th over Sri Lanka seemed certain to win it. India still needed 67 runs off 60 balls at that stage, with two batters who have not had a lot of time at the crease recently. Sri Lanka had also saved two overs from Wanindu Hasaranga, and three from Dushmantha Chameera - their two best bowlers - for the last 10 overs. And yet were unable to break the stand between Deepak Chahar and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who took India to the target.
"What we talked about in the 40th over was to push the game deep," Asalanka said. "We wanted to increase their required rate. But they were successful because they didn't lose any wickets. They had a plan to play Wanindu out defensively and get runs off everyone else, and it worked. If they'd tried to get runs off Wanindu, then maybe they would have lost. I guess the other bowlers have to talk and figure out how to get a wicket in that situation."
Sri Lanka were also sloppy with their ground fielding, conceding at least five boundaries that could have been stopped by outfielders. Asalanka noted this as an area to work on.
"We did make some mistakes in the field, and we gave away more than 10 runs in the field. We need to fix that. Nos. 8 and 9 also scored runs, so we have to figure out how to stop that as well."

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