Kumar Sangakkara says no time to panic despite Sri Lanka's disastrous Asia Cup campaign

Alex Broun 18:40 29/09/2018
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Kumar Sangakkara in action in the 2017 Caribbean Premier League.

Sri Lanka legend Kumar Sangakkara believes it’s too early to hit the panic button after his nation’s dismal showing in the Asia Cup.

The Lions were eliminated in the group stages after humbling losses to Afghanistan by 91 runs and Bangladesh by 137 runs. Sri Lanka were without Dinhesh Chandimal and after their campaign imploded, saw Angelo Mathews removed as limited overs captain.

“I empathise with the team,” Sangakkara told Sport 360 on Friday in Dubai, where he was announced as an icon player for the upcoming T20X.

“I’ve been there. I’ve lost to sides that we shouldn’t have lost to. And I understand exactly how they feel. But I’m very pragmatic about it, I’m realistic. They played very bad cricket.”

The 40-year-old said Sri Lanka “looked confused during the tournament, with an unsettled air around the team and that hasn’t helped them. That’s been the case for awhile now.”

But the veteran left-handed batsman said now is the time for cool heads, not a knee jerk reaction.

“Leave aside the emotion. I’d be very rational and clinical in the decision making. You need to evaluate very quickly as to what’s going wrong.

“If it’s the strategy then you need to select players who can execute that strategy. Then you examine team culture, you examine consistency of selection and then you put those things right.”

Above all Sangakkara believes communication is key to turning around the team’s fortunes.

“Clear, honest face-to-face one-on-one communication is essential to build trust,” he said, “and having a settled squad that has clear roles identified for players, who are given a clear run.

“(That) will improve self-confidence of players and they will trust the system better, the performances will be more consistent and results will then come.

“The issue is we’re only six months to the next World Cup. So we need to do these things quickly and I hope they get that done.”

In stark contrast Bangladesh had a superb tournament, surprising Pakistan in the Super Four to reach the final where they were beaten on the last ball by heavyweights India.

But Sangakkara does not believe Sri Lanka have slipped too far behind The Tigers in the pecking order.

“I don’t think they’ve (Bangladesh) risen above Sri Lanka in terms of ability, talent and quality – they’ve outperformed us in this particular tournament,” he said.

“Go back a few months (January) we beat Bangladesh in the final of the tri-series one day tournament (in Bangladesh).

“I think the difference between the two sides, if you takes those two sides, is they (Bangladesh) are a settled side.

“The core group of Bangladesh hardly ever changes: Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah, Shakib Al Hasan, Mustafizur Rahman and Mashrafe Mortaza.

“They’ve been around for years, they never change their core, so it’s a consistent side knowing their roles performing day in day out, playing day in day out.

“So it becomes easier to have consistent performances and more good days than bad.”

Sri Lanka have an immediate chance to turn their form around, with a five match ODI series against England starting in Sri Lanka on October 10.

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