“Hathurusingha has allowed players to make smart decisions”

10 - March - 2018 | 206 Views | Share

Sri Lanka had a dismal 2017, wiping the floor across formats and opponents at home and away. The 2-0 Test series sweep against Pakistan in the UAE stood out almost as an aberration.

The 1996 World Cup winners have, however, dramatically changed things around in the new year. With Dinesh Chandimal temporarily the captain in all three versions following the injury to white-ball skipper Angelo Mathews, and Chandika Hathurusingha taking over as head coach, Sri Lanka swept all formats in Bangladesh in January-February, and made a strong start to the Nidahas Trophy tri-series competition with a comfortable win against India in the opener on Tuesday in Colombo.

“As I always say, talent was aplenty in our team, it’s just that the mindset of the boys – and I think coach Hathuru has come in taken maximum part in that – I would say he has changed their mindset by letting them do things on their own,” said Rumesh Ratnayake, the bowling coach, on Friday (March 9), ahead of the Lankans’ second fixture, against Bangladesh.

“It’s all about smart options, I think he’s let people take smart options, and even if you fail he will say ‘well, that was good enough, let’s try again next time’. For an example, you tell a boy to go and play some shots but if he gets out, you can’t ask him ‘why did you play that shot?’ He’s a man of his word. And we have given the players that confidence and if it has shown in the boys, that’s good. But consistency is what we’re looking for in the future.”

Ratnayake elaborated on the change in mindset theme. “Yes, we have seen a change, but we’re taking each game as it comes. Our ambition is to get the team ready for the World Cup, and that is was what we are working towards.”

Sri Lanka have had a firm hold over Bangladesh in recent times, but the former paceman brushed off suggestions that Bangladesh were struggling. “It’s how you see it. You see it as them struggling, but I think we have gone and performed well there,” Ratnayake pointed out. “Maybe they’re going through a little bit of a rough patch, but we take every match seriously. And I’m sure they would want to go and show us that they’re something different. But we’re well prepared and we’re ready for it.”

Ratnayake is no fan of using words like aggression and ruthlessness. “What’s best for us at this stage – it’s not a brand, it’s about playing smart – according to the situation, is what we will do,” he said. “If there needs to be a change in the strike and going to the other end, that’s what we have to do. If there are two balls to score 10 runs, we have to do that. We will go for it. We’re talking about smart options taken, evaluate those smart options at the end of the day.”

“It’s not about being ruthless, it’s about playing a smarter game and playing to the best of our abilities. I think people were very fortunate to see some good parts of the game won against India in the last match. Because it’s not about winning one part, it was many parts, and your chances are enhanced by making those parts bigger and bigger.”

Asked what can be expected of Sri Lanka, Ratnayake emphasised, “To a great extent, the players are playing with confidence now, but at the same time, it’s important that we continue to play smart cricket. What is smart cricket? It’s about adapting to in-game situations quickly. What Hathuru has done since he came in is he has given the players the freedom to make those decisions.”

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