The onus will be now on Upul Tharanga to guide Sri Lanka to winning ways in One-Day Internationals after the Islanders revived their fortunes in Test cricket with a comprehensive 2-0 win over Pakistan.
Under Dinesh Chandimal’s captaincy, Sri Lanka left behind their dismal Test record this year to whitewash Pakistan in the two-game series. Before the win, Sri Lanka had suffered a 3-0 whitewash at home against India. The ODI team will also enter the upcoming five-match series, starting Friday (October 13), in similar situations having been whitewashed 5-0 by India.
Earlier they had suffered a shocking series loss at home against Zimbabwe following which Angelo Mathew had stepped down as the captain. They were also whitewashed by South Africa earlier this year and exited the Champions Trophy at the group stage also.
Speaking ahead of the series-opener, Tharanga hoped the players would retain the same intensity that helped the team to win the Test series.
“The test team had the hunger to perform well. The players who have come into the ODI side should have the same hunger to win. We spoke a lot about how they won. We didn’t win the Test series by planning for just one day. The plans were laid down days ahead, and the players and support staff took a lot of pain to earn the success. We have to play with the same intensity,” Tharanga told journalists on Thursday (October 12).
“We haven’t played well. The failure was mainly due to bad batting. In the last few ODIs, we have failed to utilise the 50 overs. We have spoken about it. We have to address the issue,” Tharanga added.
In addition to the team’s dismal performances, Tharanga has also been plagued by slow-over rates which had led to his suspension twice since June. A similar offence before next June would result in a six-game ban. Tharanga, meanwhile, refused to blame any individual for the slow-over rate.
“You can’t blame one individual. The entire team has to take responsibility. As captain, it is crucial for me to maintain a good over rate,” he said.
Meanwhile, the inclusion of Chamara Kapugedera into the team has raised several a eyebrows. His domestic team dropped the right-handed batsman- Sinhalese Sports Club – last season due to his poor form but has surprisingly been included in the national team.
Speaking about that, Tharanga said:
“When he was dropped from the SSC team, he was not in the Sri Lankan side. He had a decent outing in Australia during the T20 series. He also had a decent Provincial tournament and that prompted his selection to Champions Trophy. Yes, his stats are not too impressive, but this will be an important series for him. I hope he has a good series.”