Sri Lankan batting coach, Thilan Samaraweera hoped their ace spinner Akila Dananjaya returns to the eleven to revive team’s fortunes in their must-win game against Afghanistan in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
Sri Lanka fell to a big 137 run defeat against Bangladesh in their first Group B game in Dubai on Saturday — their second worst defeat against the Tigers.
Dananjaya, who took 14 wickets in five one-day matches series against South Africa August, missed the game to attend the birth of his first child.
Samaraweera said the spinner will join the team in UAE later Sunday.
“Akila was supposed to land this afternoon and he is expected to train this evening with us,” said Samaraweera of the 24-year-old spinner.
“What I feel is that when we miss out on guys like (Dinesh) Chandimal and Dananjaya, it creates an opportunity for other players. Akila takes us lot of wickets in the middle overs. We expect him to play from tomorrow onwards and let see how it goes.”
It is important to mention here that regular Sri Lankan captain, Chandimal was ruled out of the Asia Cup with a finger injury.
Samaraweera, himself a great batsman, said he was disappointed with his team’s batting, bundled out for a mere 124 in 35.2 overs.
“Our batting was awful, so was fielding and bowling. They gave us three opportunities. First we got two wickets early then Tamim was injured and we let them off the hook by dropping two catches,
“When they were 170 for six, then we gave away 40 runs in three overs. A total of 260 was achieveable.” Samaraweera said.
The coach said that he had a chat with the batting unit.
“We had a chat this morning to mend our playing techniques,
“If you take the tour to Bangladesh, we lost the first two games. Then against South Africa in the first ODI we lost something like five wickets for 30 runs. We lost 60 for six yesterday. When they were under pressure, they lack options and clarity. The decision making becomes poor and they lack confidence. We need to make their mental aspect right.” Samaraweera lamented.
Samaraweera admitted the best batsmen were selected for the event.
“The best nine batsmen are here on tour. Chandi unfortunately is injured. We can only change their mindset. There is no issue with skill. When put under pressure the decision making has to be clear. They were too scared to take decisions and they played with self doubt. As coaches we need to fix that issue.”
Samaraweera said young batsman Kusal Mendis’s role will be defined from the tournament.
“We decide on Kusal’s role defending on the series. We try to use open opener who is good at playing pace and one opener who is good at handling spin. When you play in the sub-continent the spinners come into the equation early. That is why we use Kusal early. We will continue to do that during Nidahas Trophy.”