Sri Lanka has forgotten how to win games, says Muralitharan

The legendary spinner blames the coach and captain for tactical blunders that led to series loss against India

Muttiah Muralitharan on the match: They should have bowled Wanindu Hasaranga, rather than keeping him, they should have bowled him and try to take a wicket.

Legendary spinner Muthiah Muralitharan feels the current Sri Lankan cricket team has forgotten how to win matches over the years, insisting that the sport is currently going through a tough phase in the island nation.

Sri Lanka, under new captain Dasun Shanaka, failed to defend a total of 275 for nine in the second ODI, allowing India to chase down the target with three wickets in hand and five balls to spare despite reducing the visitors to 193 for seven at one stage.

“I told you before, Sri Lanka didn’t know the winning way and it has forgotten the winning way for the last so many years. It has been tough for them because they have not (known) how to win a match,” Muralitharan told ESPNCricinfo.

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Leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga had claimed three wickets to leave India struggling at 193 for seven in 35.1 overs but Sri Lanka skipper Shanaka made a big mistake by keeping him for the final overs.

“I have told you before if Sri Lanka takes three wickets in first 10-15 overs, India is going to struggle and India struggled. Big effort from (Deepak) Chahar and Bhuvneshwar (Kumar) made them win,” he said.

“And also they (Sri Lanka) made some mistakes. They should have bowled Wanindu Hasaranga, rather than keeping him, they should have bowled him and try to take a wicket,” he said.

“If they would have taken one wicket out of Bhuvneshwar or Chahar, with two other tail-enders coming, it would have been tough to chase 8-9 runs an over…they made some mistakes but it is an inexperienced side.”

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Sri Lankan coach Mickey Arthur seemed frustrated as he made some animated gestures from the dressing room towards the end of the game as Chahar (69) and Bhuvneshwar (19) overwhelmed the target with an 84-run unbeaten stand to hand a second-string India an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.

Muralitharan said Arthur should have stayed calm and conveyed his message to the new skipper. “I think the coach was acting like, showing himself disappointed and everything, rather than just calm down and send some messages,” he said.

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“Tell the best bowler to the ball and try to take the wicket rather than try to keep them till the end and defend it, it never works like that.”

“Seven wickets have gone, one wicket and match would have been sealed but they didn’t know the winning ways, they have forgotten, it is a had time for Sri Lankan cricket to come to winning ways,” he said.