Tuesday, 27 January 2015 01:16
ESPNCricinfo: Sri Lanka chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya has said that he is not satisfied with the national team’s preparations for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
“I am not very happy the way things are going out there in New Zealand,” Jayasuriya said after Sri Lanka suffered their fourth defeat of the seven-match ODI series against the hosts in Dunedin.
“There are areas to be improved and in the next few weeks I hope we can sort them out. There are aspects to improve every day. The only good thing is that we are playing in New Zealand and against the same opposition we will meet in our opening match of the World Cup.
“It’s a good advantage for us to play here in these conditions which are tough. We have almost two months here playing Tests and ODIs to settle down and to play against the same country is a big advantage.”
One of the problem areas is the bowling department that has been leaking runs constantly after putting the opposition under pressure. Sri Lanka have allowed New Zealand to recover and win from positions of 101 for 5 and 93 for 5.
“The bowling department is an area of concern. They need to plan for things they should do when it comes to a crunch situation.
“We lack experience in our bowling at the moment in the absence of Lasith Malinga which is huge. (Nuwan) Kulasekera and (Suranga) Lakmal have come back from injuries and are bowling alright.”
The reassuring news for Sri Lanka is that Malinga is showing signs of recovering and being fit for the World Cup.
“Lasith started to bowl about 30 balls yesterday and today also he was bowling. He has shown no signs of discomfort and he will be increasing his workload gradually. I think he will be alright for the World Cup.”
The other area of concern is the lower middle-order that has failed to help Sri Lanka play out their full quota of 50 overs. They fell short in Nelson (3 balls) and twice in Dunedin (6.2 overs and 9.3 overs).
“When they get opportunities they should make use of them and deliver. The fourth ODI we should have got over 300 runs but we just threw it away. That kind of thing you can’t accept. They are experienced enough to bat the full 50 overs.”
Sri Lanka were coasting at 245 for 4 in Nelson but lost their last six wickets for 31 runs to be all out for 276. Even in the fifth ODI during their massive chase of 361, Sri Lanka were 211 for 2, but collapsed to 252 all out in 43.4 overs.
“Jeevan Mendis and Thisara Perera need to contribute more. They need to concentrate on their bowling a little bit more. When they don’t bowl well the confidence in their batting goes. Legspin is vital and if Jeevan can bowl six-seven overs it will be crucial for us. It’s not a very big issue but if they work hard they can come back.”
Jayasuriya admitted that the team management had made a blunder in opting for Dimuth Karunaratne as opener. After many attempts with Upul Tharanga and Kusal Perera and even Mahela Jayawardene, Karunaratne was eventually picked as opening partner to Tillakaratne Dilshan for the World Cup on the strength of his maiden Test hundred against New Zealand in Christchurch.
However in the ongoing ODI series, Karunaratne’s contribution as opener has been 5, 21 and 5. In the fifth and sixth ODIs he batted in the middle order and scored 12 and 26 taking the place of injured captain Angelo Mathews.
Thirimanne, who led in Mathews’ absence, was promoted to open and scored 45 out of an opening stand of 93 and 29 out of 56 with Dilshan and it looks as if he will continue to hold that position for the rest of the series and probably the World Cup.
“Our earlier option was for Mahela to open if one of the openers was not firing. I don’t want to touch Mahela at No. 4 where he has settled down nicely and is playing a long innings.
“Lahiru is playing in the lower middle-order and not getting opportunities so we thought of opening with him and if he can prove himself we can get him to open and work the batting line-up from there onwards with (Dinesh) Chandimal taking Thirimanne’s slot in the -order.”
This could mean that Karunaratne’s role will be confined to a reserve batsman in the World Cup squad.
Jayasuriya’s main focus was for the players to perform their respective roles before they meet New Zealand in the World Cup opener in Christchurch on February 14.
“I am not too worried about the result of the ODI series against New Zealand but (we have to) put things that need to be put right like the bowlers and the lower middle-order. The next two-three weeks are crucial to work on our specific areas before the World Cup. I hope that when the World Cup starts everything will be in place.”