Defending champions Sri Lanka are facing an uphill task in the World T-20 as they require winning both their remaining games to be sure of a semi-final spot. Sri Lanka take on England on Saturday followed by the game against South Africa on Monday. Both matches will be played at the Feroz Shah Kotla here in Delhi.

Angelo Mathews’ side had ample time to regroup following their seven-wicket defeat to West Indies in Bangalore and need to play well to keep their chances alive.

West Indies lead the points table in Group 1 having won both their games while England are second having won two and lost one. The Proteas and Sri Lankans have won one and lost one, but the South Africans have a superior Net Run Rate.

The advantage for the Sri Lankans is that the games so far in Delhi have helped spin bowling, conditions that will be to their liking.

Although the departure of Lasith Malinga half way through the series left the side with a gigantic task, the bowlers have stepped up and done a decent job in their two games so far. It&’s the failure of the batsmen that&’s hurting the Sri Lankans.

Against West Indies, half the side was back in the pavilion with just 47 runs on the board in the ninth over as Sri Lanka came up with a below par performance where they managed only 122 runs.

Opener Dinesh Chandimal was undone by ‘dot-ball pressure’ as he cut one straight to the cover fielder and attempted a suicidal single. Lahiru Thirimanne, who was brought into the side after much hype was expected to bat through the 20 overs, but perished too soon when he spooned one to point. Chamara Kapugedara reopened questions about his temperament to play international cricket with senseless play as he gave Samuel Badree the charge and was stumped.

Sri Lanka also had the misfortune of umpiring errors. Opener Tillekeratne Dilshan, Man of the Match during the team&’s victory in the opening game against Afghanistan looked in fine nick flicking the first ball he faced for six and on-driving the second ball for four. But his knock was cut short by a highly controversial leg-before wicket decision by South African umpire Johan Cloete. Dilshan has an excellent average of 55 against West Indies in T-20 cricket.

When West Indies batted, there was a close leg-before wicket shout against top-scorer Andre Fletcher turned down. To make things worse, two catches were put down by Kapugedara and Nuwan Kulasekara as the Sri Lankans looked all at sea. Even during the Afghanistan game, Sri Lanka put down three catches.

Skipper Angelo Mathews speaking to the media after the defeat, reiterated the need to work on the team&’s woeful fielding. However, over a period of years, Sri Lankans have shown a lukewarm response towards putting in the hard yards to improve their fielding. Under new coach Graham Ford the trend seems to be changing as the team allocates a significant portion of time during practices fine-tuning their fielding skills.

Rex Clementine