Even though Sri Lanka’s hopes of making it to the semi-finals of the 2019 ICC World Cup are rather bleak, Jeevan Mendis believes his side’s best performance is yet to come.
The Lankans play West Indies and India next and have to win both and hope other results work out in their favour if they want to wrestle away the semi-final spot from England.
A semi-final spot was up for grabs after they surprised hosts England in Leeds last week, but they came back to earth with a bump in Durham in a nine-wicket loss to the Proteas.
The veteran Mendis scored 18 as the Lankans were bowled out for 203, giving the South Africans ample time to settle in and chase it down with ease.
“I don’t think England was the best of us. As a unit we got a lot of confidence from that game but as a batting unit we have a lot to come still,” he said.
“We discussed the batting for the last few matches, as a unit we have to bat the full 50 overs. Especially when it comes to No.7, 8, 9, 10, they are batting in the 25th over and that is no good.”
“As a batting group we have to bat longer so that we can get a good start and let them capitalise. That is what happened again today, we haven’t had anyone have a chance to get a hundred. We need to get a good score on the board to give us a chance.”
Mendis, like most Lankan batsmen, has struggled to score runs in the World Cup and admitted that he is still trying to adjust to his role at number 6.
“By the time I got in today we had lost five wickets and it was an up and down wicket,” he added.
“Me and Dhananjaya (de Silva), we were thinking about taking it to the 40 or 45th over to give Thisara and Isuru a chance to free the arms.”
West Indies are up next, on the same ground at Chester-le-Street on Monday and Mendis hopes to use all his experience to keep the morale high."
“We don’t want to put too much pressure on ourselves, thinking about the semi-finals,” he added.
“We will think about the next match, playing that one well and then we can discuss the others."
“We try to back each other, to get confidence high. There are a lot of young batsmen and we want to keep their confidence levels high, and if we get a good start we have to capitalise.”