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T20 World Cup: I think the match cost us in the last few balls, says SL's Rajapaksa

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Sharjah, Oct 30 (IANS) Sri Lanka batter Bhanuka Rajapaksa lamented about the last few balls of the match against South Africa in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup on Saturday. He added that pacer Lahiru Kumara was trying his best to nail the yorkers but got undone by the pressure of bowling to a world-class batter.

With 15 needed off the final over, Kumara was tasked with defending the equation against David Miller. After Kagiso Rabada picked a single on the first ball, Miller launched back-to-back sixes off him and then took a single off the fourth ball to level the scores. Rabada then edged one past the keeper for a boundary to seal South Africa’s victory with one ball to spare.

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“I think the match cost us in the last few balls. No hard feelings. It’s just that Lahiru was trying his level best to get those yorkers in, but it’s a lot of pressure bowling to a world-class player. But I think it’s a learning curve for us, and we will come back strong,” said Rajapaksa in the post-match press conference.

Talking about the emotions after losing the match in the ending stage, Rajapaksa quipped, “It’s really emotional as a team because we are a very young team. I think we have the most inexperienced side taking part in the tournament. As a team that was not doing that well in the past few months, we have grown so well together. It’s very emotional, again, but hats off, and credit goes to Miller. He’s a world-class finisher, and we knew what he could do.”

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Rajapaksa spoke highly of leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga, who took a hat-trick spanning across two overs, dismissing Aiden Markram, Temba Bavuma, and Dwaine Pretorius. “Being No. 2 in the ICC rankings, he shows what sort of class he had been carrying for the past few years. He’s a very important part of the team, especially with the ball, but he could be a proper batsman. He’s a proper allrounder.”

“Wanindu’s inclusion in the past two years has made a big difference to the side because being a wrist spinner, going against Shamsi, who’s No. 1 playing in the opposition side, it’s never easy. The rival was always there for both of them, and Wanindu has been extremely, extremely great for Sri Lanka cricket. He’s a proper ambassador for Sri Lanka cricket. I think we could see something better, and he will be very valid in the future, as well, for Sri Lanka again.”

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Rajapaksa, who got out for a three-ball duck off Tabraiz Shamsi, appreciated Pathum Nissanka’s knock of 72 off 58 balls, which was crucial in setting up Sri Lanka’s total of 142. “The effort was 100 percent from Pathum Nissanka. He was fearless, and he knew what he had to do, and he had to bat until the last over. Hats off to him for holding on in the innings as the batting was not up to standard, but the wicket wasn’t helping the batsmen, as well. It was a great effort that he batted until the 17th and 18th over and scored 72 runs. Very crucial knock for us.”

Sri Lanka’s next match in the tournament will be against England in Sharjah on Monday.

–IANS

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