Sri Lanka batsmen seek to repair battered confidence and scoring patterns
Sri Lanka batting coach Avishka Gunawardene says the challenge for Sunday’s final ODI against India is to help players regain confidence and score more fluently and avoid a series whitewash.Updated: Sep 02, 2017 18:45 IST
Sri Lanka’s continued defeats against India has left the home batsmen demoralised and a young player like No 3 Kusal Mendis should be given a break to recover, the team’s batting coach, Avishka Gunawardene said on Saturday.
Sri Lanka go into the fifth and final ODI against India at the Premadasa Stadium on Sunday facing a rout, after the visitors took a 4-0 lead with a 168-run hammering two days ago. The results have also eroded Sri Lanka’s chances of earning direct qualification to the 2019 World Cup.
However, the former Sri Lanka batsman is more worried about the battering the confidence of his young batsmen has taken.
“Look, it has gone beyond our control now,” he said, when asked about Sri Lanka claiming a direct berth for the World Cup in England. “We’ve to make sure we try and win the game tomorrow. That is the only way we can turn things around.
“If I say the mood is really good I will be lying. To be brutally honest, the confidence level is really down. But I must say the guys are trying hard. Their enthusiasm is still pretty high. We have been trying to give them certain targets and hopefully we can achieve them.”
Gunawardene said the failures of Sri Lankan batsmen – only one batsman has hit a fifty in each of the first four ODIs – wasn’t due to poor skills.
“The technical side, we don’t want to mess around while a series is on. It’s more mental preparation that we need to work on, tactical parts to work on more than technical part. That is what we are lacking.
“All four ODIs, out of the top six guys, almost everyone has got a start. However, they couldn’t go on to get a big one. The guys are still young and they need to learn, and learn fast.”
KUSAL MENDIS FLOPS
Kusal Mendis, 22, seen as Sri Lanka’s next big batting star, has made 36, 19, 1 and 1 in the series, having scored a century in the second Test. In the ODIs, he has thrown his wicket away each time.
In Dambulla, he tried to attack left-arm spinner Axar Patel and was bowled. He was then trapped leg before trying to sweep leg-spinner Yuzhvendra Chahal, and needlessly reviewed despite not getting bat on ball. In the third ODI, he fell chasing a wide delivery from Jasprit Bumrah, and was run out in Thursday’s big defeat.
Gunawardene said: “He is still 22. We feel he is mentally drained. It has nothing to do with any technical thing… Better to give him a break before the next tour than keep playing him.
“Personally, someone who is young should be playing the longer version and ODI cricket. I would rather keep him out of T20 cricket. He is still a player who is developing. We are looking at the next so many years from him. Better keep him in the longer format, it’s my personal opinion.”
TOO MANY DO BALLS
Sri Lanka’s highest score in the series has been 236, and Gunawardene blamed that on conceding too many dot deliveries.
Asked about the batting targets, he said: “Especially in batting, dot balls have become a big issue. Our dot ball ratio in the last 12 months is something like 145 in a game. That is almost 50 percent. That is one area we have to rectify.
“We have told the team to improve that area by about 15 %. We are trying to see whether we can improve our singles ratio while cutting down on dot ball ratio. Another target is we tell the top five someone has to bat for 45 overs.
Batting partnership is something we have spoken about where we ask players to give us a 100-plus stand and a 75-plus stand. We achieved those targets in the Zimbabwe series,” he added.