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    We want to play competitive cricket and gain points – Lankan skipper

    June 12, 2019

    Umpires Richard Kettleborough, Richard Illingworth and Michael Gough inspect the pitch before calling off play in the World Cup match between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh without a ball bowled because of rain at the County ground, Bristol on Tuesday. – AFP

    BRISTOL, Tuesday: It was another wash out and another point gained for Sri Lanka as they edged closer to the top four of the standings largely by not displaying their skills on the field of play but by staying indoors due to the persistent rain that has become part and parcel of the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup. And it is for no fault of theirs it happened.

    Yesterday Sri Lanka suffered their second straight wash out against Bangladesh and although they gained a point from it, they would have been far more content if there was some play because after their win against Afghanistan eight days ago they have not had any match practice as their game against Pakistan at this same venue was also washed out on Friday.

    “Sometimes you might think that if we share the points it is fine, but we don’t want to get points freely we want to play competitive cricket, win games and gain the points,” said a frustrated Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne after steady rain throughout the day ruled out any chance of play. “Unfortunately it is raining all over so we will take the points and go to the next match.” What Sri Lanka face is the prospect of coming up against a tough Australian side in their next game at the Oval on June 15 very much short of match practice.

    Sri Lanka were hoping to make use of the two games at Bristol to enable their out of form batsmen to regain confidence with some runs behind them ahead of the Australian encounter. But circumstances has deprived them of that opportunity and they are now faced with the task of taking on a fully-charged Australian bowling attack hoping their misfiring batsmen will fire.

    “Every game is challenging. After the Afghanistan game there is a 11 days gap and we have to keep the winning momentum going for the Australian match,” said Karunaratne. “We played a practice game against Australia and we know how they play and what they are capable of. Those are the areas we have to look after, plan and do the right things hopefully we can play a game at the Oval,” he said optimistically.

    Sri Lanka’s batting coach Jon Lewis is confident that it is only a matter of time before Kusal Mendis and Angelo Mathews hit their straps and start putting the required runs on the board. Sri Lanka would definitely need their contributions in the middle order if they are to make any impact in the remaining matches which are not going to be easy as it is against all the tough sides – England, South Africa, West Indies and India and all four games played in the north of England at Leeds and at Durham.

    “Everyone was keen to play a game and everyone at home are also keenly waiting to see us play but we have no control over the weather. We will however continue to do our preparations as usual because after these two games we are getting some tough matches ahead, all the teams on top of the table,” said Karunaratne.“We must be prepared to face the challenges in the few days we have especially the mental side. We have to adapt quickly because we have not played two matches in 11 days.”

    How Karunaratne sees it is that if Sri Lanka can win two of the remaining five games they could be in with a chance of finishing amongst the top four. “We have 4 points at the moment and we have to win at least two matches from the remaining games to be among the top four. It is a challenge we face to try and win every game we play,” he said.

    Sri Lanka were without their match-winner against Afghanistan Nuwan Pradeep who dislocated his right little finger at practice and was ruled out of today’s game. He is expected to be fit for the Australian match and frontline bowler Lasith Malinga who left for Colombo at the end of the Bangladesh game to attend to the funeral of his mother-in-law is also expected to be available for selection for the Australian encounter.

    “The physio says Nuwan needs about a week to recover. We need to see how match fit he is after the injury before the Australian match. Malinga has said that he will be back before the Australian game we are hopeful that he will come. By some chance if he is unable to make it we will have to play with what we have,” said Karunaratne. Sri Lanka will travel back to London where they have four days before meeting Australia.

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