We haven’t played to potential: Mahela
Colombo, July 31: Virat Kohli’s hold over Sri Lanka continued as the India vice-captain scored a ton to successfully chase down the target in the fourth ODI and win the series for the visitors. The hosts, plagued by lapses on the field, now trail India 1-3 with a match still to be played.
While interacting with the media in the post-match press conference, skipper Mahela Jayawardene reflected on his team’s sub par performance.
On the team’s performance
Very good performances in patches [...]. The bowling obviously didn’t look penetrative enough and [it was] obviously not a good fielding performance in the last four games. We made a lot of mistakes so [it was] a below par performance all round.
On the pitch
The guys were saying it was a bit slow but obviously the bowlers were bowling really slow as well. We got to 250 but lost a lot of wickets [and] never had momentum. [It was] probably a 280-290 [-run] wicket [so we were] maybe 30 runs short because of the way we batted. But no excuses. We never handled certain situations well and created a hole that was tough for us to get out of.
On Virat Kohli once again making all the difference
He is very consistent. When he gets a start he seems to get that big hundred. It is good for any team to have one of those top three guys to be scoring like that. We couldn’t create enough pressure for him. When we had the wickets, he just paddled through in those situations. There were a couple of good spells we got through him but didn’t manage to get the wicket. Credit to him, he held the innings together and put up a decent partnership with Suresh [Raina].
On why Sri Lanka were not able to win games despite being in control earlier
Difficult for me to say but like I said, we kept fighting. Under pressure, in certain situations, India came up trumps. They handled those situations better than us. We needed a couple of more wickets when they were four down. I thought we got Suresh caught behind but I don’t know how the others felt about it. But that is how the game goes. Things could have probably been different but we move on.
On how they would motivate themselves and be charged up for the last ODI in spite of losses and injuries
I need to speak to the management and see how best we can do that. I know a couple of guys are really struggling with fatigue. [We will] see what the options are and try and motivate them to go out and take up the challenge. Kandy is going to be a different challenge all together. We need to try and put a decent performance together and see where we are at with India because we haven’t played to our potential in this series.
On not bowling Angelo Mathews’ full quota of overs
Angie is stiffening up a lot. He has had a long season. I bowled him in spells, which I thought he was pretty good at, but at the end I realised that it was probably not worth pushing him. His workload is being monitored and it’s pretty much on the borderline since the Test series and one-dayers and these one-dayers. I don’t want any more injuries going into the next two months, especially leading up to the [ICC] World [T20], so I had to hold him back today.
On the strategy against India’s part-time bowlers given that they played with only four specialists
The plan was to take on the fifth bowler and capitalise, but it was tough to do that when we were losing wickets. We never had the momentum. We lost wickets in the Powerplays and didn’t have any control. [We were] trying to build the partnerships so that we could have a platform, which we didn’t. We kept losing wickets in that middle period. We had to accelerate as well; we knew the score we were going to post wasn’t going to be enough on this wicket. Trying to take risks didn’t work. We didn’t execute the plan well and credit to the Indians – they kept putting a lot of pressure on our guys and we never handled those situations that well.
On sending Lahiru Thirimanne to bat at No. 3
I didn’t want to change the batting line-up too much just because we lost Kumar [Sangakkara] in the line-up. I felt [it] would be a great opportunity for Lahiru to bat up the order and build the innings. [It] would give the young guy a bit of confidence rather than padding him again at the No. 6 or 7 position. So that was the thinking behind it. Speaking to the selectors and the coaching staff, we felt that was the right call in the situation. I thought he batted really well but it wasn’t easy for him when we were losing a lot of wickets.
250 [runs to defend] in hindsight […] were probably a few runs short. We had them under the ropes at 109 for four. [With] a couple of more wickets it would have been a different story. Lots of ifs and buts but we have to take responsibility that we did not play a good game of cricket today.
On what they needed to do to beat India
They have got a unit that is clicking together. They have got a good batting line-up. In the last two-three years what we’ve found is to control them we need to pick wickets. That is what we have been trying to do with our bowling unit and five bowlers all the time – trying to control the Indian batting line-up. I think they win matches with their batting [and] not so much with their bowling so for us to beat them we need to control their batting line-up.