Bowling impressive, but top order still down in the dumps: Sri Lanka’s Rajapaksa

Sri Lanka cricketer Bhanuka Rajapaksa was impressed with the performance of the frontline bowlers in the massive seven-wicket victory against Namibia in a First Round Group A game at the ICC T20 World Cup here, but added the former T20 world champions “can’ be happy with all of the performance because there are many parts we need to improve”.

Sri Lanka reduced Namibia to a sub-100 total with some excellent all-round bowling performance and then notched up the target for the loss of three wickets in 13.3 overs, thus beginning their campaign to secure a ‘Super 12’ berth on a positive note on Monday.

The Sri Lankan trio of seamers first restricted Namibia — conceding just 45 runs from their 11.3 overs and taking four wickets — to complement the combined five-wicket haul of spinners Wanindu Hasaranga and Maheesh Theekshana, bundling the Eagles for just 96.

Rajapaksa’s 42 not out and Avishka Fernando’s unbeaten 30 for a fourth-wicket stand of 74 after the Islanders were reduced to 26/3 saw them home comfortably.

“It’s always a learning curve for any team and any individual. We can’t be happy with all of the performance because there are many parts we need to improve,” Rajapaksa told on Monday after the match.

“But we can be happy about the performance of the frontline bowlers because they set the tone for us and it made it much easier for us batters. We’ve been struggling in the powerplay to get runs and not lose wickets, so there’s a bit of a concern when it comes to the top-order batters — they are struggling to get runs and it is not in our favour at the minute.

“Going forward we are looking to correct the mistakes from past games. It was a bad day for the top order but we’ll take it in a positive way and going forward, we’ll do the right things.” Both opening batters, Pathum Nissanka and Kusal Perera, were dismissed cheaply, while No.3 Dinesh Chandimal was out for five.

But the decision to bowl first paid dividends as the Namibia total was still low enough to comfortably hunt down despite the early struggles. “One of the reasons we wanted to bowl first is that we knew there would be some dew as the evening went on,” he added.

“The warm-up games we played in Oman, the dew factor was large and the bowlers couldn’t grip the ball when they were bowling second. We knew the conditions would be similar here in Abu Dhabi. Going forward, the toss will be important but we can’t always rely on it. We need to practice with a wet ball in the nets. It could be a challenge for us but the boys are ready for it.”