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Defeats hurting team morale ahead of World T20, says Mathews

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Madushka Balasuriya, reporting 

from Dhaka, Bangladesh

Sri Lanka’s poor showing so far in the Asia Cup, as well a string of recent poor performances in T20 internationals, has left the team low on confidence and morale ahead of the World T20 in India later this month, Captain Angelo Mathews has admitted.

Sri Lanka have won just one out of their three matches so far in the tournament; that, too, a laboured performance against minnows UAE, where the bowlers had to bail out a limp batting performance. The form of the Lankan batting has been a major concern for a while now, with the batsmen also failing to fire in last month’s series in India, and Mathews cut a resigned figure in trying to explain the consistent failings of his side’s batsmen.

“It’s quite damaging [for World T20 preparations], especially for the confidence levels and morale. It’s pretty hard to digest when you keep losing. We haven’t played our best cricket yet and the most worrying factor is that we haven’t clicked in our batting order,” said Mathews speaking after his side’s five-wicket defeat to India on Monday night. 

“And so close to a World Cup, we have to connect the dots together and maybe try a few combinations. I don’t really know. We just have to be positive.”

The batsmen showed signs of improvement against India, with Chamara Kapugedera in particular looking good. Kapugedera scored 30 off 32 deliveries having come in at the fall of the second wicket. It was the first time this tournament that he had been pushed up the order and Mathews said that that had always been the plan.

“Kapugedera is one of our senior players and he showed his character and experience today. We’re trying to utilise him where we feel its best. We’ve had this batting order lined up for the last few games but we kept changing it because of the need to keep left hand/right hand combinations in the middle,” he explained. 

“I also sensed a positive approach today in our batting. Our intent was to score runs, and not to just hang in there. That’s the way you have to play. It’s just a matter of being positive and hoping that the batting line-up will click soon.”

One batsman that is certainly not clicking for Sri Lanka is Tillekeratne Dilshan. He’s scored just 58 runs in his last 4 T20I’s, a far cry from the form that saw him become one of the most feared openers in the game. Mathews though, while concerned about his lack of form, was certain that Dilshan, who will turn 40 later this year, will eventually come good. Mathews also called on the younger members of the team to step up and share the burden of responsibility with the senior players in the team.

“Everybody hits a rough patch, he’s had a few rough patches here and there and his last few innings were not very good. But as I keep saying, we all need to take responsibility; it’s not only the seniors. The selectors and captain have picked a squad which they think is capable of winning, and we have to go out there, show faith in the players we have and move forward.

“We haven’t clicked yet and it will take a bit of time for the younger guys to start performing. We just have to be patient; but unfortunately this is not the right time to be patient.”


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