After the 2-1 ODI series loss to India, Sri Lanka coach Nic Pothas has stated that the side’s inability to learn from their past mistakes is responsible for the poor performance. He has also explained that picking five opening batsmen in the squad was a strategic plan that unfortunately didn’t work.
Sri Lanka went down by eight wickets in the third ODI against India in Visakhapatnam, to hand the hosts an eighth successive bilateral series win, this time with a 2-1 margin. The series loss underlined Sri Lanka’s struggles in ODI cricket in this calendar year, which ended without a single series win. This year, they have lost 23 games and won only five and Pothas was quick to point out that they were aware of the dangerous precedent.
"If I summed up our ODI cricket, I would say we didn't learn fast enough. In Tests though, it is the opposite. The guys have learned quickly and adapted. In ODIs, the same errors keep happening. We keep crossing the street and getting run over by the same bus over and over. So I leave that up to the selectors and the new coach. I obviously will have my suggestions to make. But if you keep making the same mistakes, you can't keep living," Pothas said after the series loss.
Despite a good start, Sri Lanka managed to post 215 in 44.5 overs following which Dhawan’s unbeaten ton helped India waltz to 219 for 2 in only 33 overs. Sri Lanka's performance was further down to their batsmen’s inability to adapt to the Indian conditions. Ahead of the series, a lot of eyebrows were raised when Sri Lanka named as many as five opening batsmen in the squad.
Only Upul Tharanga and Danushka Gunathilaka opened the innings, and while wicketkeeper-batsman Niroshan Dickwella batted at number five throughout the series, Sadeera Samarawickrama occupied the number three slot for the deciding game. Kusal Perera, who was the fifth opener in the squad, didn't even get a game. But, Pothas explained that it was a strategic plan that didn't work out for them.
"It's a tough one. In hindsight, we can look back and pick holes in the system. But we had a strategy," Pothas said.
"What we tried to do was to get as many players as possible who are good players of spin bowling into the squad. If you want to play India, you want to have players who can play spin in the middle order. That strategy is sound. But unfortunately, we lost two wickets in one over and that put us behind the black ball little bit," the former South African wicketkeeper-batsman mentioned.
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