World Cup 2019: Jayawardene urges Sri Lanka to retain belief

Sri Lanka were struggling after defeats to New Zealand and Australia and two washouts before reviving their World Cup chances with a shock win against hosts England last week.

Sri Lanka skipper Dimuth Karunaratne bats during a training session.   -  AFP

Former captain Mahela Jayawardene has urged Sri Lanka to keep believing they can still reach the World Cup semifinals, pleading for the batsmen to show consistency.

Sri Lanka were struggling after defeats to New Zealand and Australia and two washouts before reviving their World Cup chances with a shock win against hosts England last week.

But the 1996 champions lost to South Africa on Friday to slip behind England, Bangladesh and Pakistan in the race to qualify from the round-robin phase.

“Sri Lanka must still believe they can get to the semifinals of the World Cup - but it’s their lack of consistency that keeps holding them back,” Jayawardene wrote in his column for the International Cricket Council.

“It’s a big ask to win their next two games but it’s still possible. But to do that they must be consistent in the batting group, which they couldn’t do at Durham (against South Africa).”

Sri Lanka, who were bundled for 203 against South Africa to lose by nine wickets, play West Indies in Chester-le-Street on Monday and India in Leeds on July 6.

The Dimuth Karunaratne-led side not only need wins but also favourable results from other teams to go their way.

“If they go out there against the West Indies and be positive, believing in what they can do, then you never know what may happen,” said Jayawardene.

“They need to manage those emotions out in the middle and hopefully it can make a difference. Knowing the Sri Lankan fans and public, they’ll be backing the team all the way and they know they have the ability to be successful.”