Sharjah: It was an abject surrender by the Sri Lankans in the five match One Day International series against Pakistan, which concluded on Monday.
Coming into the series with a moraleboosting 2-0 series win against the hosts in the Tests, Sri Lanka played as if they have forgotten their winning formula. Sri Lankan batsmen have failed repeatedly to withstand the accurate Pakistan attack, while their bowlers could also not break partnerships.
Sri Lanka wanted to win at least the fifth one-day match in Sharjah Cricket Stadium to prevent a clean sweep, but what emerged was their worst performance of the series — getting bowled out for 103 in 26.2 overs and lose the match by nine wickets before innings break.
An anguished Sri Lankan skipper Upul Tharanga said: “We couldn’t pass the 200-mark on three occasions this series. Same mistakes were repeated. Even here we had four wickets down in the first three overs and there was no coming back from there on.”
Tharanga, and even their coach Nic Pothas, do not know why their batsmen are at their worst. Pothas had even remarked: “Batters need to take some responsibility. The currency of your batting is runs. If you don’t keep making them, the shop is going to close down at some point.”
Even that statement, which said that the batsmen who fail repeatedly will lose their place in the team, did not help.
Tharanga remarked that batting failure is strangely not getting resolved. “The batting has been a worry in recent times and it was the same on this occasion. In the last 15 to 18 months, we have struggled with our batting and that has been the main reason why we have come up with below par performances.”
When Gulf News asked Tharanga whether the batting failure analysed for a solution, Tharanga said: “We had lot of discussions and even analysed what needs to be done. What we have failed to do is to deliver in the middle. In this series, out of the top six, only two batters have passed the 75-run mark. You are not going to win matches if this is the state and it is very disappointing.”
Lahiru Thirimanne, who was the best among Sri Lankan batsmen with two half-centuries in the series, earlier told Gulf News: “It’s more to do with mental stuff. We have talent and there is no doubt about it.”
The question that emerges then is if the team has talent how is it that they are unable to handle the Pakistan bowling, especially a 23-year-old Usman Khan Shinwari, who was playing only in his second One Day International?
Pakistan’s leg-spinner Shadab Khan, against whom their batsmen struggled is only 19. Most of the Sri Lankan batsmen are, ironically, more experienced than Pakistan bowlers.
Pothas even admitted that his team is not exactly a young team. Tharanga said: “We had no answers against Pakistan’s attack. We can fail as batsmen two or three matches, but not all five games. A team when batters are not performing is tough.”
The question of Tharanga not being able to inspire the team as a captain inevitably came up. “I would like to take the blame for the defeat. It’s the responsibility of the selectors and the board [to find a new captain]. I don’t want to leave the team and go. The board will decide who will take the team forward.”