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World Cup 2019: Sri Lanka won’t be caught in the middle for long, says batting coach

Sri Lanka experienced a washout in their last outing against Pakistan, having lost their opening match of the tournament against New Zealand before beating Afghanistan in Cardiff.

World Cup 2019: Sri Lanka won’t be caught in the middle for long, says batting coach
Image Courtesy: PTI

Batting coach Jon Lewis has said the quality of Sri Lanka’s middle order will shine through sooner rather than later after their indifferent start to the 2019 International Cricket Council (ICC) Men’s Cricket World Cup.

Sri Lanka experienced a washout in their last outing against Pakistan, having lost their opening match of the tournament against New Zealand before beating Afghanistan in Cardiff.

They suffered batting collapses in both of those completed games, crumbling from 144/1 to 201 all out against the Afghans while they were knocked over for just 136 against the Black Caps.

But despite big names such as Kusal Mendis and Angelo Mathews failing to fire so far, Lewis is confident Sri Lanka will overcome their middle order batting woes against Bangladesh.

“I think in the last game we made a great start, part of that was caused by us playing some good cricket but Afghanistan were not playing at their best with the new ball. As they improved we didn’t recognise the fact that they have improved and we expected them to carry on at the same levels, so when we opened the door they pushed on through," the ICC press release quoted Lewis as saying. 

"It was our fault, we opened the door and gave them the opportunity to push on through and when they were on a high they were very good and put a lot of pressure on us.I think going into the World Cup we would have thought that if we got starts, if we got through that new ball period, we would probably be in decent shape," he added.

“We have some experienced players in the middle with Kusal Mendis and Angelo Mathews. They obviously haven’t quite fired yet but against Afghanistan, they let us get away with that.I’m confident players of that quality will definitely come to the party soon so it was good to get a win when we were not at our best but we do need more from some of the batters," the Sri Lanka batting coach continued. 

Mathews has made back-to-back ducks in Sri Lanka’s opening two games, while Mendis only has two runs to his name, yet Lewis believes a big score is just around the corner for both players.

“With Angelo you have to have faith in a guy who has done as much as he has over a long period of time and he tells me he is in a good place and good headspace.I have no reason to doubt that the runs will come from him while Mendis could do with a little bit of a confidence boost, I think for him it’s a case of just getting through those first 20 balls," he added.

“In the build-up to the World Cup, he played well against Scotland and the two warm-up games he looked in good form even though he only got 20s and 30s which was a downer."

"Those would have been a good opportunity to get a big score, but there was nothing about his form in either of those two games to suggest there’s anything to worry about. He’s had two low scores and of course it would be good if he had more runs behind him, but I think he’s probably only 20 balls from being really away," Lewis said.

While Bangladesh also have one win from three games ahead of their meeting with Sri Lanka in Bristol, Lewis suggested their results have not reflected their performances so far.

“They are a very good side, there’s no doubt about it,” he said. “They’ve had a tough start in terms of fixtures but they’ve put in good performances even in games they haven’t won. That suggests that they are going to be a tough opposition for everybody, so we know that, but our focus will be on us and us being positive about ourselves."

“We’ll believe that even though it’s a strong opposition and an opposition that have every right to be confident because of the way they have played so far, we’ll be backing ourselves strongly.It will be tough and Bangladesh have had a couple of decent results against Sri Lanka but this is a World Cup situation and we have seen that it’s different to bi-lateral one-day tournaments."

“There’s no doubt at all that there’s a hell of a challenge ahead of us but we also do have a lot of confidence in the players we have in our dressing room and a lot of faith in them," he concluded.