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Former batsman and ICC match referee Roshan Mahanama believes Sri Lankan needs to reflect on their performance at Champions Trophy and come with a concrete plan to be successful in international cricket.
“I think they need to go back, sit, reflect and come up with a concrete plan. Yes, we are in a phase where we are rebuilding after (retirement of) Mahela (Jayawardane) and (Kumar) Sangakara. But they need to get their act together and start competing consistently at this level,” Mahanama told reporters.
Mahanama was at the MIG Cricket Club in suburban Bandra as a chief guest for a prize distribution ceremony.
Blaming poor fielding for Sri Lanka’s loss against Pakistan in the ‘virtual’ quarterfinal, Mahanama said,” It is pretty unfortunate that they (Sri Lanka) missed out, two days ago. They had the game (against Pakistan) in their hand. Looking at some of the highlights, it is only the boys to be blamed. It’s the fielding.
“I saw Ravi Shastri’s interview at the end of the game, he said fielding has been the strength of Sri Lankans and SriLanka cricket. It has never been the strength of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh. We can proudly say that we set standards and maintain high level in fielding,” said the former right handed batsman.
Sri Lanka were thrown out of the ongoing Champions Trophy courtesy their “pathetic” fielding in their virtual quarter final against Pakistan.
“From what we saw, they dropped two easy catches and you can’t afford to win matches if you drop those catches. Sri Lanka has always been underdogs. This tournament is no different.
“Looking at India, they never thought they will lose to Sri Lanka, their focus would have been on South Africa and Pakistan.
“Sri Lanka is always a team which could spring in a surprise, but after having bounced back after that defeat (against SA), I don’t think they capitalized,” said the Colombo born player.
According to Mahanama, things changed for the Sri Lankan cricket after their triumph in the 1996 World Cup.
Mahanama, who officiated over 300 games as a match referee for the ICC, opined that umpires will never be ineffective.
“The emphasis on DRS (Decision Review System) is because the game is commercialized and there is lot at stake for players, coaches, administrators. So they want to correct whatever the mistakes the umpires make.
“The correct decision percentage of umpires have been maintained or increased. But if you are patriotic, we will only remember the decisions that have gone against our team,” he quipped.
Reckoning that cricket umpiring is one of the toughest job in the world, Mahanama said that every mistake the umpires makes goes against them.
He also recalled the Colombo Test where Sri Lanka had amassed 952/6 declared, the highest score in Test cricket, in August 1997 and his 576-run second wicket partnership with Sanath Jayasurya in that game against India.
“That is a highlight of my career, it was a critical time of my career, that I played that innings. It is not only the innings, the partnership with Sanath (Jayasurya), today it is the highest score in Test cricket. To be part of team which has set a record, I was proud to make a contribution,” said Mahanama.