Maybe Sri Lanka needed to be shocked back to reality and that it would do them well in the long run. This is what coach Chris Silverwood feels, after Sri Lanka suffered a monumental 10-wicket drubbing in the Asia Cup final. Sri Lanka were blasted out for 50 in the title match before India raced to the target inside seven overs.
“Sometimes a bit of a kick up the rear end is not the worst thing going into a World Cup,” he said. “Maybe this is just a wake-up call, that for us to compete against teams like India, Australia, and New Zealand – those types of guys – we have to be on top of our game. Maybe there’s something we can use out of this that can motivate us heading into that World Cup.
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“Clearly it was a bad day in the office. Clearly we came up against a very high-class bowling unit. It was a shame to finish the way we did. It’s one of those things we can’t dwell on too much because we’ve got a big tournament coming up. There are lessons to learn and questions to be asked in the dressing room. We have to move forward.”
Silverwood did, however, acknowledge the quality of Sri Lanka’s campaign up until the final. They beat Bangladesh twice, won a nail-biter against Pakistan, and also defeated Afghanistan narrowly – though that was in a match in which Afghanistan were pursuing victory in the 40th over, in order to qualify via net run-rate.
Dunith Wellalage and Matheesha Pathirana were impressive for Sri Lanka•AFP/Getty Images
He was especially pleased with allrounder Dunith Wellalage, who finished second-equal on the tournament wicket-takers chart, with 10 wickets at an average 17.90, as well as with Matheesha Pathirana, who topped the chart with 11 wickets at 24.45. Neither Wellalage nor Pathirana would have played if Sri Lanka’s first choice attack had been fit.
“We played some very good cricket to get to the final. We had to fight very hard. For me it was an achievement.” Silverwood said.
“But if we take today out of the equation, we’ve seen two youngsters put their hands up, in Dunith Wellalage, and Matheesha Pathirana. We’ve seen two of them really put up their hands on the world stage. Sadeera [Samarawickrama]’s played some good knocks (he hit 215 runs at 35.83). [Kusal] Mendis has come back into form (270 runs at 45). But clearly consistency is something we need to bring into the game.”
This was, however, the third time in 2023 in which Sri Lanka have been all out for less than 100, having been dismissed for 73 in Thiruvananthapuram, also by India, in January, then decked for 76 by New Zealand in March.
“We bat all the way down to No. 7, so it is a concern,” Silverwood said. “It’s something we have to talk about. I’d encourage us to face the problem head on. We cannot let this happen.”
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf