Sri Lankan cricket fans on Tuesday expressed frustration and disappointment over their team's tactics in resting top players for the World Cup clash against Australia.
Sri Lanka, already assured of a place in the semi-final, kept out star bowlers Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan for the Super Eights match in Grenada on Monday, which Australia won by seven wickets.
Buoyed by the team's excellent showing in the tournament so far, fans had eagerly awaited victory over Australia, the favourites to win their third consecutive World Cup title.
Mumtaz Begum, a female fan, said: "I can't believe they rested Vaas and Murali against a tough team like Australia. The loss will hit the morale of our team."
"They should go on a holiday if they needed rest. World Cup comes only once in four years," said another disappointed fan Saman Priyantha.
Stanley Weerasinghe, a veteran watcher of Sri Lankan cricket, said, "whatever the tactics, the end result is that we have lost badly."
"Australia are the top team in the world. You have to respect your opponents and play your best team in a tournament like the World Cup."
Taxi driver Ranjith Priyantha complained that "Vaas and Murali did not tour India in February saying they needed rest because of the World Cup.
The pundits, however, were willing to give the Sri Lankan team management the benefit of the doubt.
Popular commentator Roshan Abeysinghe said the decision could be justified because Sri Lanka had already assured its place in the semi-final and there was no need to go full throttle.
But Sanjeeva Ranatunga, a former player, said the loss had exposed Sri Lanka's batting frailties.
"Upul Tharanga failed once again and Russel Arnold and Tillakaratne Dilshan showed weakness against the bouncing ball," he said. "The team must seriously consider its batting failures."
Bandula Warnapura, who captained Sri Lanka in their inaugural Test match in 1981, said it was not wise to look ahead towards the final when the semi-finals had yet to be played.
Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene has defended the decision to rest Vaas and Muralitharan which immediately weakened an attack already without injured seamer Lasith Malinga.
"We have to do what's best for the team and that's why we took the decision," Jayawardene said after the match.
"We use our personnel on and off and we have to make sure we have the guys ready for the semi-finals.