Milinda Siriwardana one of the bright lights for Sri Lanka in a disappointing ODI series against Pakistan.

By Sa’adi Thawfeeq

Lasith Malinga’s lack of success with the ball and the top order batsmen’s failure to make runs on good batting tracks were given as reasons for Sri Lanka’s one-day series loss to Pakistan by head coach Marvan Atapattu.

Pakistan won the fourth ODI at the R Premadasa Stadium by seven wickets to take a winning 3-1 lead in the five-match series with the fifth and final match to be played at Hambantota on Sunday.

“We haven’t got the wickets quite regularly as you would expect from Malinga. That’s something that we missed and that’s one of the reasons we’ve lost the series,” said Atapattu at the post-match press conference.

Malinga has taken four wickets in four matches at a cost of 61.50 and leaking runs at 6.64 runs an over. He is still the leading wicket-taker for his side even with such poor figures which speaks of the rest of the bowling.

“A lot of the batsmen getting starts and not going on to get a big score on basically flat wickets is disappointing. We needed a big one from one of them to get a big score or chase a big score,” said Atapattu.

“We got one when Kusal (Perera) got a 50 off 17 balls. We haven’t had that frequently. That is something people have to be responsible at the top of the order.”

Summarising the team’s performance overall Atapattu said, “We haven’t had the results in all three departments, honestly. Fielding is a major concern. The energy we are used to seeing from Sri Lankan teams hasn’t been seen on the field. That’s a concern. We haven’t played the best cricket that we know and are renowned for.”

Stating the reasons for the decline, Atapattu said, “I reckon it’s execution. I don’t think there’s a hell of a lot of issues with our planning and what we want to do. Executing under pressure is something that concerns us plus we have played on good wickets. We’ve played on real good tracks starting in January this year in New Zealand.

“In all three departments we were weak, that’s why we lost the series. The other team was much better. We have to improve all three departments to rise in world cricket again.”

While accepting the fact that the team is going through a period of transition Atapattu said that the absence of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara has given the opportunity for others to fill their shoes.

“Missing two knowledgeable experienced players like that is going to be a bit difficult at the start, but life goes on. The young players have to take responsibility,” said Atapattu.

“Their capabilities and their thinking only surfaces when players like Mahela and Sanga leave. It’s a learning curve in terms of tactics and so on, but they are the ones who have to take Sri Lankan cricket forward.”

Sri Lanka introduced two new batting and bowling all-rounders Milinda Siriwardana and Sachith Pathirana who showed promise for the future.

“We are playing on good wickets and one has to be really experienced to take wickets or curtail runs on these wickets, unless you’re someone different,” said Atapattu.

“Having said that, both of them have showed good qualities with the bat. That’s a big positive. Milinda has shown that he’s mature for his age. He’s showed that he could handle situations as well as anybody. Hopefully in time to come, with a few more matches under his belt, he’ll be a very valuable player.”

Apart from Nuwan Pradeep’s fitness, Atapattu said there may not be any changes for the fifth and final match. Pradeep suffered a slight hamstring strain and had to leave the field midway of his third over. Mathews completed the over.