One of the biggest factors of Sri Lanka’s dismal show on the ongoing tour of South Africa has been the failure of their batsmen. Poor batting saw them getting whitewashed in Tests despite the bowlers having the Proteas on backfoot on several occasions. Winning the subsequent T20 series gave them some respite but poor batting has once again come to haunt them in the ongoing ODI series.
The visitors are trailing 2-0 in the series after losing the second ODI by 121 runs and are yet to cross the 200-run mark in the series. However, their head coach, Graham Ford is not too much worried with the team’s batting performance and said he was excited to see the way his team’s young batsmen began their innings. Kusal Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella and Dhananjaya de Silva are still finding their feet in international cricket and Ford insisted his batsmen have got what it takes to excel at the highest level.
Speaking after the second match, Ford said:
“I was quite excited with what I saw today. Unfortunately none of our batsmen converted starts but they certainly showed they have got the talent to play at this level and to make an impact at this level. I feel when I look at the number of games so many of them have played and the ages of some of them, if they are looked after and shown the right kind of support, in time, they could be a very good Sri Lankan side.”
“For some of the guys it’s a bit of a jolt to come and see how tough it is to play in foreign conditions and to play in South Africa,” Ford said.
“From that point of view, it’s got to be a learning opportunity. If we are realistic and we look at the players we’ve got and the ages and the amount of games they have played, it is about learning and it is about improving. At times we’ve shown improvement, at times I have hoped for more improvement. On tonight’s performance, I was quite excited about what I saw.”
With Champions Trophy just a few months away, Ford admitted his team needs to improve if they want to do well in tough English conditions.
“It’s pretty clear there is a lot of improvement that needs to take place. From what I saw from some of these young batsmen, they showed they can handle this sort of bowling attack,” he said.
“Conditions in England might not suit them as much as today’s conditions so we will have to do a bit of thinking about balance of side and the way we can try and disrupt them in those conditions but we will have to improve a lot in all three disciplines.”
Sri Lanka’s misery has been further compounded by the absence of their skipper Angelo Mathews. The all-rounder flew home after injuring his ankle in the second T20I.
“In white-ball cricket, Angelo is a fantastic allrounder. He is the leader of the group so it is a setback but if I look at where we are at, it gives us a chance to groom a couple of other guys in the set-up and hopefully it will pay us back down the line.”
Dinesh Chandimal’s poor form has not helped the visitors either. One of the most-experienced players in the team, Chandimal has scored only 58 runs in the two ODIs after scoring a 85 and 33 in the Test and T20I series respectively.
Speaking on Chandimal, Ford said:
“In recent weeks, he has started to look a lot better, started to time the ball and shown he is not far away. He started this tour a little under-done because of that serious finger injury but we all know what a capable player he is. He will get one score score hopefully in the next game and hopefully he won’t look back.”
Sri Lanka will now have to win their remaining three matches to win the series while South Africa need to win just one to bag the series.