Our bowling is alright, but the batting needs to catch up before the World Cup. Wanindu Hasaranga, easily the most high-profile cricketer in Sri Lanka’s T20 side now, took four wickets in the second match against Australia and brought his team back into the match. But in the end, the target was too meagre. Australia needed only 125 to win the match and seal the series.
The previous night, they’d needed only 128. Both times, Sri Lanka’s middle and lower middle orders had failed to resist Australia’s fast bowling through the middle overs.

“There’s a weakness in our lower middle order and lower order,” Hasaranga said after his team lost the second T20I. “Right now, they are a little bit out of form, and we have to accept that. Our target is the World Cup. If we can add 10% more on the batting side in the next match, and in the series coming up, we’ll be in a much better place. In these two games our batting had a few small mistakes.”

Even on a slower track such as the one used on Wednesday, Sri Lanka’s total never seemed enough. But thanks largely to Hasaranga, who took 4 for 33, Sri Lanka had Australia at 99 for 7 at one point. The visitors would go on to win comfortably, but the bowlers’ fight had at least given Sri Lanka a chance.

“In the series to come, we have to bring our batting and bowling up to the same level,” Hasaranga said. “On the bowling front we’re doing pretty well. If we can make a close match out of a match like this when they were just chasing 125, that means our bowling is in good shape. I think by October [when the World Cup starts] we will get better as we play more and more matches.”

Hasaranga’s returns on Wednesday had come after he’d been walloped in the first match, in the two overs he’d bowled. Australia’s top order seemed to have planned to attack him, although David Warner denied they’d set out to do that, when he spoke to the press after the first match. In the second game too, however, Aaron Finch had gone after Hasaranga early on. That is, until Hasaranga started taking wickets.

“When I bowled yesterday, they hit 27 runs off my two overs,” Hasaranga said. “When you’re chasing a small total, any team has less pressure on them. The pressure is on us. So they attack. But then a team like this will anyway try to attack me in the first two overs, because if they push me out of the game early on they gain the high ground. That’s what I feel.

“But then I like it when they attack me. Rather than batsmen closing up and defending, I can get wickets when they attack. I can put the team in a better position that way.”