Melbourne-based former Lanka player, who was part of Sri Lanka's 1996 World Cup-winning squad, wants the islanders to play 'complete cricket' when they take on Bangladesh today
Melbourne: Sri Lanka survived a major scare against World Cup debutants Afghanistan in a Group A match at Dunedin on Sunday. It was the assured calm of the experienced veteran Mahela Jayawardene and the late order bluster Thissara Perera that got them over the line and saved the 1996 World Cup champions the blushes. They will look to play a lot better against Bangladesh at the Melbourne Cricket Ground today.
A vital cog in that World Cup-winning side, top order batsman Asanka Gurusinha, who now lives in Melbourne, said he was quite worried that Sri Lanka might lose the game when they were reduced to 51 for four in 12 overs, during the chase of 233 runs. He was not impressed with Sri Lanka and felt that Afghanistan throughly tested them.
"Absolutely, I was worried. I knew if Mahela was dismissed at that time, it would have been very difficult for Sri Lanka to win that game. The only thing I was looking for was to have Mahela bat through the innings and others batting around him. I thought Afghanistan really tested the Sri Lankan team. I don't think overall Sri Lanka played well."
Gurusinha saw some positives with the middle order contributing to Sunday's winning cause in Dunedin. He also believes that Jayawardene coming in at five bolsters the middle order, which of late, has not been producing much and the batting has heavily revolved around Jayawardene and the other veterans Kumar Sangakkara and Tillekaratne Dilshan. "The plus side is that even though we lost four wickets early, we still had the middle order making the runs with Angelo Mathews and Mahela" said Gurusinha.
Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews is run out during their match against Afghanistan at University Oval in Dunedin, New Zealand on Sunday. Pic/Getty Images
"Our problems in the last few years, including the 2011 World Cup, has been that the middle order is not getting the runs. Mahela batting at five, I still, believe is a good position for him and the team."
The 1996 Sri Lanka was filled with aggressive stroke makers and redefined the one-day game on their way to claiming the trophy in Lahore beating Australia. Gurusinha was reminded of the quarter-final match vs. England where Sri Lanka chased down 236 in 40 overs, and made an unmistakable statement of intent to the rest of teams in the competition.
Not enough promise
Before the World Cup began, Gurusinha fancied Sri Lanka to be one of the four teams in the semi-finals along with Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. He is not so sure now. He is not satisfied with Sri Lanka's efforts in any of the three facets of the game and feels they need to improve significantly if they were to progress beyond the quarter-finals. He is worried that Sri Lanka have not put together complete games of cricket in the last couple of months.
"We have bowled well in patches. There is a lot to improve in our fielding as well as you cannot afford to drop catches or miss run outs in the (knock out stages). The way it's going, Sri Lanka will face India or South Africa in the quarters. You have got to play a complete game. In the last two months, I have not seen Sri Lanka play a complete game of cricket. They need to succeed in every department and that's lacking currently."