Ahead of Sri Lanka’s ODI World Cup match against New Zealand at M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Thursday, the Lions’ assistant coach Naveed Nawaz said that the game against the Kiwis is crucial in terms of the upcoming Champions Trophy qualification. Speaking at the pre-match press conference Nawaz said that everyone’s very positive and trying to keep their heads up and play the best game against New Zealand.
“It’s a crucial game. And the scenarios say that we need to win it. And there are a few more games played after our national. So, preparation was as usual. We came for training today. And I think everyone’s very positive and trying to keep their heads up and go and play the best game tomorrow,” Nawaz said.
When asked about Sri Lanka’s batting lineup, the assistant coach said that there were concerns regarding the opening pair for a period of time but now they have filled the gaps.
He added that in all three departments (batting, bowling and fielding) they have made mistakes in most of the games in the tournament.
“There was one thing in the opening that was always concerning for us over a period of time. And we’ve sort of tried to fill in those gaps. We brought in Dimuth for the qualifiers and Kusal, Janith for the World Cups. And also, in the middle order as well. There are a couple of spots in the middle order, which has been concerning for some time now. It’s not something that has happened during this tournament, but it has been there. Apart from that, we’ve seen about four of our batsmen have done really well, Charith, Sadeera, of course, Pathum and Kusal have done reasonably well in this tournament. So, it’s the consistency and the overall game, I think. I think when you look at it, the bigger picture, I think in all three departments, we made mistakes in most of the games. Our fielding was not up to the mark and whenever we batted, we didn’t bowl well. So, it was an overall affair I think we should have done better,” he added.
Nawaz was asked about Sri Lanka, and he said that it has been a challenging time and the only control they have in this tournament is the game against the Kiwis.
“I think it’s a challenging time of course. But we should control the controllables right now. The only control that we have in this tournament is the game tomorrow. So, during the team meetings and whatever discussions we had amongst the coaching group as well as the players to sort of focus on that. We cannot focus on the matches that we have played and finished or we cannot focus on anything which is happening back home. So, I guess the way to go forward is to put our energies, put our focus on the game tomorrow and try and do the best to our ability,” he added.
Nawaz heaped praise on Dasun Shanaka and said that he has proved to be a good leader. The assistant coach further added that it’s unfortunate that they lost the main captain at the ongoing ODI World Cup 2023.
“Dasun [Shanaka] has proved to be a good leader. He has done well as a captain for Sri Lanka. And when we were coming into the tournament, he was perfectly all right. And it’s unfortunate that we lost the main captain, appointed captain of the tournament but it’s also unfair I think to make a judgment on Kusal Mendis’s captaincy in a couple of games and also it would have been a massive burden on Kusal to take over the captaincy during a World Cup,’ he concluded.
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