Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Southern Express manager Shane Fernando has admitted that the absence of opening batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan and pace demon Lasith Malinga hurt the team during their short appearance in the Champions League Twenty20 (CLT20).
Dilshan missed the CLT20 due to family commitments, while Malinga opted to play for the Mumbai Indians instead.
As a result, Southern Express were knocked out of the tournament after they lost all three of their qualifying matches, which came against Northern Districts, the Mumbai Indians and the Lahore Lions.
“[Tillakaratne] Dilshan’s absence had a psychological effect on the team,” Fernando said. “Everyone was upbeat with Dilshan’s inclusion in the team. We were hoping that he and Kusal Perera would provide the ideal start to our batting.
“The team would have benefited not only from Dilshan’s batting but also from his bowling and fielding.”
Fernando also revealed that Dilshan did not take part in any of the team’s training sessions since he sustained a calf injury following his stint with Surrey.
“The national team physio said that he was fit to play but ruled him out of practice,” Fernando said.
Fernando also noted that Malinga would have played an “instrumental” part in helping the Southern Express reach the group stages.
“We were also without another world-class T20 performer Lasith Malinga who opted to play for Mumbai Indians,” he said. “Malinga was instrumental in Southern Express qualifying to play in the Champions League when we emerged winners of the SLC Super Fours T20.”
When asked why the team failed to win any of their qualifying matches, Fernando attributed it to the fact that the team have not played many Twenty20s, especially under floodlights.
“We had the talent but most of the younger players had little exposure to playing T20 cricket and playing under lights,” Fernando said. “The occasion became a little too big for them.
“Although our team preparations were good and we went with a good chance of qualifying these little factors proved decisive in our final result.”