Cricket World Cup 2019: Sri Lanka must improve '200 per cent' against Afghanistan

Former team manager Charith Senanayake critical of side's dismal start to the tournament

Sri Lanka had a dismal time against New Zealand in their opening game of the Cricket World Cup. Reuters
Sri Lanka had a dismal time against New Zealand in their opening game of the Cricket World Cup. Reuters

Sri Lanka must improve by "200 per cent" against Afghanistan on Tuesday at the Cricket World Cup to rebuild confidence after their poor start to the tournament.

That is the view of the side's former team manager Charith Senanayake following Saturday's 10-wicket loss to New Zealand.

Dimuth Karunaratne's men go up against the Afghans with the fixture coming nine months after the Sri Lankans were beaten by the same opponents at the Asian Cup in Abu Dhabi.

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“Afghanistan are a fighting unit who play with a lot pride and passion,” said Senanayake, who quit from his role with the national team in November.

“They are out there to prove a point. They have many top performers who are featured regularly in the world circuit. I am sure they must be full of confidence after beating us in the Asia Cup convincingly."

The 1996 champions looked anything but contenders as they lost by 10 wickets to New Zealand on Saturday in Cardiff, with the Black Caps taking just 16.1 overs to chase down their target of 137.

“We simply cannot afford to drop this game," Senanayake added. "It will have demoralising effect on our local cricketing structure.

"We must win this game for many reasons from a cricketing perspective ... overall we need to raise the bar 200 per cent in all three departments, if we are to win against a committed Afghan team."

Since reaching the final in 2011, where they lost to India, Sri Lanka have fallen away as a force in 50-over cricket.

While acknowledging that Karunaratne is leading a side going through a rebuilding process, Senanayake said there was still no excuse for being as soundly beaten as they were on Saturday.

“You don't take part in a World Cup for mere participation," he said. "In a professional environment you don't want to look like a bunch of amateurs in the eyes of the world.

“In that sense, yes it is rather disappointing to see us conceding defeat meekly without a fight or a proper game plan. The manner we were beaten by New Zealand was a dark day in our cricketing history.”

Senanayake believes that the make-up of the squad, with too many all-rounders included has hurt the balance of the side.

“They have more questions than answers to find, the right balance, which is rather unfortunate," he said. “The theory of having half measured players, batsmen who can bowl or bowlers who can bat a little, usually don't work at this level.”

Senanayake believes that the game has evolved and that the Sri Lankans have been left behind and that is behind their struggles in all forms of the sport.

“It appears that other teams have taken the game to another level,” he added. “Even if we play at our best, I am not too sure if we can match up to others skill, fitness levels. Seriously hope that I am wrong in my judgement.”

Senanayake is reluctant to look too far down the line for his expectations for the team in the tournament, saying it the Afghanistan game is a chance for a fresh start.

“Momentum is a key factor but every game is a new game and they will have to play accordingly,” he said.

“There will not be any easy games. All are playing for their respective countries pride. Sad to say, but I am not too sure if we are playing with that sentiment.

"Usually when there is lack of direction, motivation and leadership from the management, the end result can be rather disastrous.”

Updated: June 4, 2019 08:28 AM

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