Chamara Kapugedara: Sri Lanka players should take ownership for humiliating defeats
Chamara Kapugedara believes Sri Lanka cricket team needs to rediscover the art of winning games whilst working on their weaknesses - especially the batting - ahead of the fourth one-day international against Indian cricket team.Updated: Aug 28, 2017 17:35 IST
Sri Lankan cricket was left gasping for breath after India wrapped up the One-day International series to go with the Tests, taking a 3-0 lead with two games left.
The home team’s capitulation saw irate local fans hurl water bottles at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium with India eight runs from sealing a six-wicket victory, built on Rohit Sharma’s superb 124 not out and his 157-run unbeaten stand with MS Dhoni (67 no).
Sri Lanka stand-in skipper, Chamara Kapugedera, was left to field a volley of questions on the team’s poor health from the country’s media. He said the players were united but will have to find a way to turn matches their way.
“There are no outside problems. But I think that winning formula has been forgotten. I have seen that happen to many teams. When a team is losing, even if they get close to win, they just can’t go beyond that hurdle. But we will have to win just one match and go from there,” he said.
Although Sri Lanka have struggled through the current home season, they had a ray of hope in the second and third ODIs played in Pallekele. In the first game, spinner Akila Dananjaya’s six-wicket haul had left India reeling before Dhoni and Bhuvneshwar Kumar put together an unbroken 100-run stand.
Again Dananjaya picked two wickets in three deliveries to leave India, chasing 218 for victory, at 61 for four. Kapugedera said the bowlers have responded to the challenge but the batsmen need to fight back.
Sri Lanka need to win the last two ODIs if they are to ensure a direct spot for the 2019 World Cup ahead of the September 30 deadline. However, it looks tough now.
“In the last two games, we have bowled well. There was a big improvement in our bowling. On the other hand, our batsmen need to lift their game. If we can go for a fair total, I think we can win,” said Kapugedera, a controversial choice as stand-in skipper after Upul Tharanga got a two-match ban for the team’s slow over rate.
Sri Lanka have also suffered a series of injuries. On Sunday, Test skipper Dinesh Chandimal, a key batsman not picked originally, suffered a hairline fracture in his right thumb after being hit by a Hardik Pandya delivery. His patient 36 and 72-run stand with Lahiru Thirimanne (80) helped the team cross 200.
“As a leading cricketing nation, we can’t just depend on 15 players,” Kapugedera said. “There is a good crop of players in the age-group level. When they come up and play little more cricket, we can have a good team in the future.”
He urged batsmen to take ownership. “Players must go out there in the middle and take responsibility and perform. Only then can we win.”
Cricket fans in Sri Lanka have blamed the Board for controversial selections and constant changes, something even interim coach, Nic Pothas initially pointed out before withdrawing his statement.
“I don’t know what people think,” Kapugedera said. “But as far as I am concerned, there is no problem in the team. All we have to do is perform and win matches.”
Kapugedera acknowledged ODI series defeats to Zimbabwe and India, when the team should start preparing for the 2019 World Cup, were setbacks. “It’s a big drawback. But simply because we lose games, we just can’t go home and put our heads down (and agonise).”
Helpless vs Dhoni
The Sri Lanka stand-in skipper acknowledged his team was pretty much helpless against MS Dhoni, who was unbeaten in the second and third ODIs to rally India from serious trouble chasing modest totals.
“MS showed his experience in the last two games and played (according to) the situation really well. He also didn’t give us any chances. He knows what he is doing and he has been doing it for a long time.
“It is up to us to come up with something new.”
First Published: Aug 28, 2017 13:51 IST