“Sri Lanka cannot take Afghanistan lightly” – Mahela

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Mahela Jayawardene
(Photo by Rob Jefferies-IDI/IDI via Getty Images)

Especially in Cardiff, losing the toss and batting first is not easy. 

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The ball was doing a little bit but the important thing was to try and bat the first 20 overs without losing too many wickets. 

It’s about getting through that spell, and the advantage of batting first in any scenario is putting runs on the board. You then have to get to at least that par score so your bowlers can create some pressure.

A par score would have been something in the range of 250 given the fact the wicket was always going to settle down in the second half. 

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After a decent partnership between Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Perera, we lost two quick wickets and then the New Zealand bowlers were just on top after that. 

I think the mindset was stuck between whether to attack or not to attack. It’s tough when you get caught in that mindset, especially when there’s assistance from the wicket. 

You just sometimes have to keep changing gears and know which bowler to go after.

It was, however, very good to see Dimuth bat really well, especially with him being the captain and having other responsibilities as well. 

He hasn’t played that much ODI cricket but his Test form has been brilliant. We just needed a few other boys to bat well now too. 

It was tough for the bowlers but it still showed Sri Lanka have a lot of work to do as a unit. When you don’t have many runs on the board, you try to bowl that magic ball rather than holding your line and length.

In slightly friendly conditions, the fast bowlers did not really create many opportunities, even if the two New Zealand openers batted well. 

Photos: Sri Lanka vs New Zealand | ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 – Match 03

Even then, though, Sri Lanka now need to look at how to take wickets and create pressure going forward. 

The team need to put this behind them pretty quickly and see how they can improve. 

The next game is big, and as I’ve said before, four or five wins might get you into the semi-finals as top teams will beat each other. You will lose two or three matches and have bad days. 

The Afghanistan game is an opportunity but at the same time they are also a formidable team. Sri Lanka cannot take them lightly, but they should feel confident in their skills and the players that they have. 

Rather than looking at the opposition, the challenge is to be the best they can be, playing the brand of cricket they want to play. Then the results will take care of themselves. 

They are a formidable unit with lots of match-winners – and have to believe in their ability.

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