Having made an early exit from the World Cup, Sri Lanka’s assistant coach Naveed Nawaz admitted on Wednesday that the team has a lot of gaps to fill before emerging as a serious contender in global tournaments. Sri Lanka will face New Zealand in their final league match in Bengaluru on Thursday, and Nawaz said they were looking for improvement in all areas of the game. “We had to qualify for this World Cup. We were not in the top eight teams. We have gaps in skills to fill, and it’s a massive subject,” said Nawaz during his pre-match press meet.

“We need to be patient because the (current) group of players are not going to change other than the players who are coming through from the grassroots. So, we need to see how we can upskill our players and get them at par with international standards,” said Nawaz.

Taking that point forward, Nawaz said the Lankan batters need to find more consistency to gain desired results.

“The opening which was always concerning for us over a period of time. We’ve sort of tried to fill in those gaps. We brought in Dimuth (Karunaratne) for the qualifiers and Kusal (Mendis), Kusal Perera for the World Cup.

“There are a couple of spots in the middle-order, which was concerning for some time now. It’s not something that has happened during this tournament, but it has been there for a while. So, it’s the (lack of) consistency,” he added.

Apart from the on-field issues, Sri Lankan cricket also had to tackle some tumultuous moments after the drama surrounding its cricket board back home.

The country’s sports ministry had sacked the current office bearers of the board before a higher court reinstated them.

While admitting that the whole episode was challenging, Nawaz said they will have to focus on the match at hand.

“It’s a challenging time. But we should control the controllables. The only control that we have in this tournament is the game tomorrow.

“So, during the team meetings and the discussions we had amongst the coaching group as well as the players was to focus on that,” he said.

Mendis took over as captain after injured regular skipper Dasun Shanaka was ruled out of the tournament.

It seemed to have affected his batting as the wicketkeeper batter could not kick on despite receiving starts in a few matches.

However, Nawaz said it was unfair to judge the leadership of Mendis based on a couple of matches.

“Dasun proved to be a good leader. It’s unfortunate that we lost him. But it’s unfair to make a judgment on Kusal Mendis’ captaincy after a couple of games.

“It would have been a massive burden on Kusal to take over the captaincy during a World Cup. The decision making which he was not involved in (earlier) probably would have affected him as well. I guess both are good captains,” added Nawaz.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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