Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lankan captain, blamed inconsistent batting for his side's defeat in the ODI series against India. Sri Lanka needed to avoid a loss in the fourth ODI to stay alive in the series, but went down by 46 runs, handing India the trophy with one more match left in the contest.
"I was disappointed the way we played. We had our opportunities," Jayawardene said after the match. "Our one-day cricket hasn't been consistent especially the overall performances with the bat," he said. "If you are not capable of getting the runs it's quite difficult to win matches." Sri Lanka, set a competitive target of 259, were bowled out for 212.
Jayawardene, like his counterpart Mahendra Singh Dhoni, has led the scoring for his team, but none of the other batsmen have been able to back him up. Sanath Jayasuriya's 60 today was the only other fifty for Sri Lanka in the series besides Jayawardene's two, and the remaining batsmen haven't been able to make up for the poor scores from Kumar Sangakkara.
Jayawardene admitted the lesser-known players need to step up their game. "That is something we really have to work with. Our guys need the confidence to go out there and express themselves which we have asked them to do," he said. "But they haven't been consistent. We definitely need to work hard and make sure we get it right because this is our future."
A positive for Sri Lanka, though, was the performance of their bowlers, especially the medium-pacers in the absence of Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando and Farveez Maharoof. "That's something that we can fall back on," he said. "Especially with the injuries we've had guys who put up their hands and performed. Thilan Thushara has been outstanding with ball and bat, so was [Nuwan] Kulasekera." Besides picking up career-best figures of 5 for 47 in this game, the left-armer Thushara has also been Sri Lanka's second-highest run-getter in the series; an ideal replacement perhaps for Chaminda Vaas, who happened to pick up his 400th ODI wicket.
With a bowling line-up consisting of Ajantha Mendis and Muttiah Muralitharan, Sri Lanka can surely make opposition batsmen sweat, but Jayawardene wants his batsmen to put the runs on board. "We just need to make sure our batting is consistent," he said. "At the start of the series I said in one-day cricket you need to be very consistent with the bat. Putting runs on the board or chasing down targets - we have to do it. That's where we lost the series."
Jayawardene said his team would be aiming to end the series with a win. "We do have some cricket in the near future so it's important that we finish on a high note," he said. "We played some really good cricket throughout the Test series and one-day series. It will be disappointing if you just give up on the next game."