Being a Sri Lankan batting coach is probably the most difficult task at this point, which is why Jon Lewis has been having a tough time. After all, during this World Cup, Lewis is working with a batting group which does not include the country's best batsman, Dinesh Chandimal, nor their highest run scorer in ODI cricket over the past two years, Niroshan Dickwella. Captain and opening batsman Dimuth Karunaratne had not played an ODI since the previous World Cup when he was appointed captain in April and Angelo Mathews, the most experienced batsman, has made two ducks so far.
Nobody else is in much better form. Lewis might consider that he is rather being asked to turn water into wine. If he fails to work some magic with a batting group which was bowled out for 130 against New Zealand and that then lost seven wickets for 36 runs against Afghanistan, albeit in a victory delivered thanks to their bowlers, Sri Lanka's campaign promises to be truly forgettable. Despite their victory over the Afghans, predicting where another Sri Lankan win might come from is not straightforward.
They will certainly be underdogs against all the other sides they play and that will be the case against Bangladesh in Bristol on Tuesday if the wet weather which is forecast stays away. Right now, the washout against Pakistan on Friday is looking like a decent result.
In 50-over cricket, that talent has lain dormant for far too long, consistency but a mirage in a desert full of batting collapses and insipidness. It has been the major weakness in a horrible run of ODI form, with just five wins from their last 22 completed matches. Falling in a heap against Afghanistan was an indication of a lack of confidence too. Once one wicket fell, panic spread and panic only spreads like that when you are unsure of your substance.
"We played some good cricket but Afghanistan probably weren't at their best at the start with the new ball. As they improved, we probably didn't recognise that they had improved. We expected them to carry on the same level. So when we opened the door, which we did, they pushed on through. It was our fault,” quoted Jon Lewis.
"Against Afghanistan we got away with that. I'm confident the players of that quality will definitely come to the party soon. But yeah, we do need more from some of the batters," he added.
I’ve got no reason to doubt
He is one of the players that Lewis was talking about. His team needs more from their former captain. "I've got no reason to doubt that the runs will come for him," said Lewis.
One place above Mathews in the order, Kusal Mendis is having no better time, registering scores of two and nought. His place in this ODI side in such a pivotal position of number four is one of the fault lines in the batting order, given he averages just 27 in 65 matches with only five scores of more than 70 in those games. "He's a very talented player. He's a talented test player," said Lewis. "The numbers at the moment look good. 50 overs, his numbers aren't where a player of his ability should be yet.
"I think his conversion from 20s, 30s into 80s, 90s, hundreds is the big step forward he needs to make. In the two warm up games against Australia and South Africa, he got 30 in both [37 and 24]. He looked in good touch, and that's the sort of day when you've got to get a hundred because you can't be in good touch every day.
So if you could convert his starts, firstly, it would be very good for us because we need our top four to be producing more than just 40s. And it would be good for him, as well." Mendis has only got one ODI hundred but it did come against Bangladesh, in Dambulla in March 2017. "Maybe that's a good omen. Maybe he'll get a second one tomorrow," Lewis said.