World Cup is the goal: Jayawardene
Hambantota, July 23: Having lost the first ODI against India, the Sri Lankans are wary of making too many mistakes against the upbeat Indians. Host captain Mahela Jayawardene, however, believes the errors the team commits are part of the process towards building a team for the next World Cup.
Addressing the media ahead of the second ODI, he spoke about his team and game plans.
Excerpts from the press conference:
On the loss in the first ODI against India
[...] Obviously we lost the match the other day, but it wasn’t a heavy defeat. We fought back really well. Like I said after the game, we made quite a few mistakes and when you play India, it’s tough to come back when you commit too many mistakes. We’ve already had a few chats with the boys [about] the mistakes and the areas where we need to improve. Hopefully we can execute those things in the second game.
On whether SL were playing too much cricket
We knew the schedule was going to be tough for us. Not just the last couple of months – if you take the next few months, they are going to be tough for us as well. We just need to manage some players which we did against Pakistan and England before that. We need to try and manage the workload of certain players and try and get a big squad going for us. This is an important tournament for us and we need to play well.
We got to know about this series about two months ago. [Our] planning and all went well. But like I said, it’s good exposure for our guys. We need to try and play to our best ability. We need to give everything that we have got.
On whether he would open the innings or bat in the middle-order in the next game
We shall see. It’s not easy for me to go up and down [the order] and I don’t think it’s good for Upul [Tharanga] either. But like I said, we will try to be as flexible as possible and make sure that we identify the players [for various positions].
On whether he was tempted to come in and bat at No. 4
I was tempted, but at the same time you need to look at the bigger picture. The whole structure going forward into the next World Cup is to make sure that guys like Angelo [Mathews] and [Dinesh] Chandimal bat in certain positions. We need Chandi to bat at No. 4 and identify his role. He did that well for us in Australia. We have two and a half years before the next World Cup. We don’t know whether guys like Kumar [Sangakkara], [Tillakaratne] Dilshan and I will be around till that time. It depends on our fitness and our ability to perform at that level. We need to plan accordingly. We will see. Chandi is a guy who can bat at any position. I felt that he is confident where he is right now and [we will] try and keep him where he is.
On whether SL were depending a lot on their top three batsmen
When the three of us started off we didn’t play the way we are playing right now. There was another senior group of players who did well and we chipped in. It’s the same structure going forward. Angelo has contributed well for us and Chandi got a hundred for us in England. In Australia he was the second highest scorer in the tournament. As long as we give them the right direction, by the time we leave they will be ready to take over. That’s how we strike a balance while building a team.
On what they look for in youngsters
[We look] for them to make mistakes and learn from them. It’s very important. They will produce that match-winning knock. We have to give them the freedom to go out there and express themselves which is very important. They will make mistakes, but how soon they learn from those mistakes and whether they are willing to work hard and learn from them, how they handle certain challenges when things are thrown at them, those are the things we look for in players rather than the technique or the runs they put on the board. Those are the things we look for other than winning performances. How quickly they learn and how they identify their game.
On Virat Kohli
I think initially when he started his career we picked his wicket quickly. But like any good player he has come up with a game plan and he is executing that pretty well. Just the last few occasions he has got more confident against our bowling attack. It’s up to us now to come up with a game plan. All credit to him. He is batting really well. Not just against us, but against other teams as well.