Pallekele: Stand-in skipper Chamara Kapugedara feels Sri Lankan have lost the art of winning matches and urged his team to take responsibility and work on their weakness ahead of the fourth ODI.
"There are no outside problems. But I think that the winning formula has been forgotten," Kapugedara told reporters on Sunday after India took an unassailable 3-0 lead with a six-wicket victory in the third ODI.
"I have seen that happen to many teams. When a team is losing, even if they get close to win, they just can't go beyond that hurdle. So we have lost that winning formula. But we'll have to win just one match and go from there."
Kapugedara, however, was impressed by the progress of the bowlers and asked his batsmen to step up.
"We also talk a lot how we get this on track but I think in the last two games, we have bowled well. There was a big improvement of our bowling in the last two games. On the other hand, our batsmen also need to lift their game. If we can go for a fair total, I think we can win," he said.
The 3rd ODI was also marred by unruly crowd behaviour with fans from both sides of grass banks hurling water-bottle missiles at Sri Lankan players fielding at the boundary when India were within eight runs of victory.
Play was halted for some time and then the umpires and players left the field, only for the stands to be evacuated before they returned to complete proceedings.
This was preceded by ugly scenes in Dambulla as well where the Sri Lankan team was jeered and heckled as they left the ground after another heavy loss in the first ODI.
"Players need to go out there in the middle and take the responsibility to perform. Then only we can win. It's how we, the 11 players or 15 players, play and win games. There are weak points. That's why we're losing. Somehow, we'll have to find those weak points and make those necessary adjustments to before the next game," the stand-in skipper said.
"I don't know of what people think of it. But as far as I am concern, there's no problem in the team. We're a one unit and no problems whatsoever. All what we have to do now is to perform and win matches. Nothing else," he added.
It is the second successive home defeat for Sri Lanka in ODIs. They lost 3-2 to Zimbabwe and now must win the last two matches to salvage any chance of automatic qualification for the 2019 ODI World Cup.
"Yes, it's a big drawback. But, simply because we lose games, we just can't go home and put our heads down and dream. There are matches to come and we need to get ready for them as well," the stand-in skipper said.
"However, I think a team should be supported when it's down as well as when it performs. I mean in mentally and in every other aspect. So what I can say is please keep supporting us because we try to do our best every day. We're not that far away from winning. All are playing to win and nobody likes to lose," he added.
The Lankan team has been marred by selection issues with the likes of Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne sitting out the first two ODIs. They returned for the third game and provided solidity to the middle order on account of their experience.
"We never experimented with players. These are the players who played before. We had an issue as Upul Tharanga got banned and Asela Gunatillake got injured. That's why Thirimanne and Chandimal came in. We don't make too many changes," said the skipper.
"I wouldn't think much into that selection debate. Better you ask the selectors on this matter. But I think Thirimanne had a couple of injuries recently as well. I respect the decisions of selectors. I have no problems with them. I am just the stand in captain and I'll only be here for just couple of games. I am happy with the team I got for these two games," he added.
Meanwhile, Chandimal has been ruled out of the remainder of the series with a hairline fracture in his right thumb after he was hit by a Hardik Pandya delivery whilst batting.
"I think injuries are also an issue. Nobody can deny it. We've lost many bowlers. Those are also having an impact. But I think, as a leading cricketing nation, we can't depend on just 15 players.
"We need to find more and more players. I too think there is a good crop of players in the younger age level. When they come up and play little more cricket, we can have a good team in the future," said Kapugedara.
Despite the experienced partnership between Chandimal and Thirimanne, Lanka could only manage 217/9. India's top-order floundered once again, but Rohit Sharma and MS Dhoni made sure that there were no further hiccups.
"Obviously, MS showed his experience in the last couple of games and he played the situation really well. He didn't give us any chances too. I think he knows what he is doing and he has been doing it for a long time. So it's up for us to come up with something new," Kapugedara signed off.