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Former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara said that the side’s capitulation to South Africa in their ICC Champions Trophy opener was typical to their inconsistent form in their last 18 months. In his column for ICC-cricket.com, Sangakkara said, “There was also a lack of clarity in purpose and a confusion in role identification. The players were too timid to decisively commit to their strengths or the situational requirements.”
Sangakkara said that Sri Lanka performed well with the ball to restrict South Africa at the start and towards the middle overs post the dismissal of Faf Du Plessis. He also said that the loss of captain Angelo Mathews before the start of the match itself was a big blow for the team. South Africa went on to make 299 runs on the back of a century from Hashim Amla and a later charge by JP duminy. Sri Lanka, in reply, got bundled out for 203 runs, thus losing the match by 96 runs.
“As a Sri Lankan, I hope they are able to regroup and commit to a brand of cricket the fully displays the wonderful talents and abilities I know they possess,” said Sangakkara. He also said that the team selection may have hurt the team and the loss of Mathews may have been central to that.
“It also presented them with a selection dilemma,” said the Sri Lankan great, “They choose the more conservative option and decided to bolster the batting, playing just four specialist bowlers with Asela Gunaratne as the fifth bowler. It was a big gamble given the strength of South Africa’s batting and the fact that Lasith Malinga was playing his first ODI for a long time.”
Sri Lanka play their next match against India on Thursday.