London: Sri Lanka's batting coach, Marvan Atapattu, has backed the team to make the ICC Champions Trophy semi-finals with victories in their remaining matches against hosts England and Australia. Sri Lanka narrowly lost to New Zealand in Cardiff on Sunday in a low-scoring match to leave Angelo Mathews' team needing to win at The Oval on Thursday and next Monday, but Atapattu was confident they could cast aside their poor batting effort to rebound.
"True, we had a bad batting innings the other day. The spirit was high and the boys were fighting, and we almost got through. But unfortunately, it didn't happen for more than one reason," Atapattu told reporters on Wednesday. "Within the team, everyone wants to win. It's about experience. Given the reputation of some of these guys, they want to win these two games badly. Nobody would like those reputations to be tarnished playing in England, especially."
Reflecting on the one-wicket defeat to New Zealand in Cardiff, where Sri Lanka were bowled out for 138, the former opener and captain put the onus on the team's batsmen to stand up in unison.
"We have the experience, but putting that to work is something. We have spoken about it. [From] time to time, it will happen. Hopefully we will read situations better and think 50-over cricket and bat 300 balls of the innings," he said. "Looking at the total we got, it wasn't satisfactory. We could have read the situation from the middle. We could have adjusted to settling down to a much lesser target, when you are looking at 230-240 at the fall of the second wicket. Then, the way the wicket behaved and the way we approached it, things went wrong for us."
Atapattu also felt that he and the other members of the coaching staff needed to inspire the players, especially in different conditions than back in Sri Lanka. "I reckon we, as coaches, become facilitators in front of senior players, and, in the meantime, be pushy with some of these youngsters," he said.
"At one point, they will realise what's good for them and what's not. Our system is such, compared to places like England, Australia or South Africa where you see professionalism setting in very early. For us, it won't happen. We need to understand that and push these youngsters. Sticking to the basics is important to being a good batsman. If you have a good foundation, from there, you can modify your game to reach any level."