| Stephen Fleming at the nets on the eve of New Zealand’s match against Sri Lanka
|Muttiah Muralidharan at the Rangiri
Stadium in Dambulla Monday
Dambulla: Sri Lanka coach Duleep Mendis has criticised the mental approach of his top-order on the eve of Sri Lanka’s tri-series match against New Zealand on Tuesday.
Sri Lanka were dismissed for 120 by Pakistan on a seaming pitch on Saturday and Mendis believes his batsmen are making too many excuses for their recurrent failures.
“In the first match we knew it was going to seam and they should have adjusted to it and performed,” said the former Sri Lanka captain. “They have played a lot of one-day matches and as professional one-day International cricketers there should be no excuses.
“It is time for the top order to take full responsibility for putting up a good score.”
He said he believed that Sri Lanka had the necessary batting talent to be successful in all conditions but added they had to work on their mental approach.
Maravan Atapattu, Sri Lanka’s new one-day captain, agreed with his coach, saying his batsmen lacked commitment.
“We’re going through a prolonged rough patch, I can’t figure out what has gone wrong with our batting,” Atapattu said. “Several of our batsmen are out of form, and it’s been like this for seven months.
“I just can’t pinpoint the problems ... They start at number one and stretch to number seven,” he said.He also wants the tail to contribute. Sri Lanka are considering two changes ahead of the New Zealand match.
Left-hander Russel Arnold, who scratched around for his 13 runs from 49 balls, is expected to stand down for middle order batsman Tillekeratne Dilshan.
“We might also look at bringing in an allrounder who can bat better than someone who is already there,” Atapattu said.
Sanath Jayasuriya, who is suffering from a severe bout of tonsillitis, is expected to play after training lightly on Monday morning.
New Zealand are set to make one change, including Kyle Mills or Andre Adams in place of injured fast bowler Shane Bond.
Bond has suffered a back strain, which will be scanned when the team returns to Colombo on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Lankan skipper says he’s baffled to find unfavourable conditions at home.
Their batting collapsed against Pakistan, leaving Atapattu wondering what had gone wrong.
“I sure am surprised to discover that the conditions actually favour our opponents,” he said. “The pitch is very lively and difficult to bat on,” Atapattu said on Monday. “We’ve had overcast conditions for the past three days.”
Atapattu said Sri Lanka is under tremendous pressure against New Zealand at Dambulla’s Rangiri stadium, which before last weekend had staged just one limited-overs International two years ago.
Sri Lanka defeated England by five wickets in that match. “The pressure is on us after New Zealand defeated Pakistan in its first match,” Atapattu said. “Even the pitch and weather conditions seem to be favouring our opponents.
“It’s not the best of surfaces to bat on, it’s not a batsman friendly wicket.”
“This wasn’t a suitable wicket for one-day cricket,” he said. “People come to matches to see a lot of runs being scored. The one-day game is for the batsmen.”
The New Zealand and Pakistan captains have also criticised Dambulla’s pitches that figured in low-scoring matches.
“I guess if you’re looking at the traditional one-day game, you want a lot of runs and you want bowlers to come under pressure,” New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming said Sunday.
“There are no complains from us as we got used to playing on such pitches at home last summer,” said Fleming, adding that these pitches were different from those encountered during the Test series.
Pakistan’s Rashid Latif said strokemaking is too difficult on pitches like Dambulla.