'Need Our Top Five Batsmen To Fire' - Gurusinha

Asanka Gurusinha has conceded his first tour as Sri Lanka's cricket manager has been disappointing. Though Sri Lanka had had a rough outing in South Africa, they were expected to win home series against Bangladesh, an opponent they had more-or-less consistently dominated. However, like the Tests and ODIs, the T20s have also now been shared 1-1.

"It's not ideal for us," Gurusinha said. "We should have won all three series. It's not good enough to say that we have drawn all three series, as we were playing at home. We expected to win the series."

That the final match of the tour was lost was partly thanks to a top-order failure. Chasing 177, Sri Lanka virtually batted themselves out of the match in the Powerplay, by the end of which they were 47 for 5. Four out of Sri Lanka's top six batsmen failed to make it out of single figures - two were out for ducks.

"For me the batting was very disappointing," Gurusinha said. "It was nothing to do with the wicket, but something went wrong somewhere. It's very difficult to give answers. This is one of the best wickets in the country. We need our top five batsmen to fire. If we don't get runs there, it's going to be a problem."

Having largely fielded well in the second ODI and first T20, the fielding errors that had plagued Sri Lanka for much of the past two years returned in this match. Shakib Al Hasan was dropped twice in the space of three balls - on 4 and 12, before he went on to consolidate Bangladesh's fast start with 38 - the highest score of the visitors' innings.

Gurusinha said he and chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya were in agreement that only players who fielded well could be eligible for places in Sri Lanka's squad for the Champions Trophy, which will be named by April 25. The provincial one-day tournament, which is set to begin this week, may serve as an audition for Champions Trophy spots.

"We have already put some plans for the players when it comes to fielding," Gurusinha said. "The chief selector, the trainer and myself are looking at certain things. We believe if players are fitter, they will field, bat and bowl better. There was a clear message from the chief selector and myself: we are not going to select players simply because they have scored heavily in domestic cricket. They need to achieve certain standards in fielding, and fitness has to be at a certain standard as well.

"When you are playing three or four games at higher intensity level, that's where players struggle. When the provincial tournament finishes, we will start training from 2nd of May. We have to select the Champions Trophy side by 25th of April. So from 2nd of May we have time till 17th of May before we go, and we will have training sessions in which we'll be specifically working on fielding."

Perhaps Sri Lanka's best performer in the T20s was Lasith Malinga, who took five wickets in the two matches, and claimed his first T20 hat-trick in the penultimate over of Bangladesh's innings on Thursday. Though he has played the T20s, he has not yet made a return to ODI cricket following a major ankle injury last year. Gurusinha hoped Malinga would be fit enough to pick in the Champions Trophy squad.

"Malinga has taken so many hat-tricks and he is a legend - his knowledge of cricket is unbelievable. He is a top performer. He hasn't played lot of cricket in the last ten to 12 months, and playing T20s and 50 overs are totally different. We will watch him closely at the IPL. He has got about 15 to 20 games if he plays all the games. The best thing is that he wants to go to England with us for the Champions Trophy. I am hoping he will do it, but as he has to bowl 10 overs and field 50 - that's where he's a little worried."

(ESPN)

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