“When you look at the two matches, we lost them in the last over and we missed crucial chances at crucial moments of the game that was the main reason,” said Dickwella at the post-match press conference following the conclusion of the second T20I at the Pallekele International Stadium on Tuesday.
“If you look at the first match we batted really well but at the end of the day we were 10-12 runs short. We bowled well and lost the match in the last over. Even today (Tuesday) at 40-2 Avishka (Fernando) did a great job and we had a good partnership and built the innings well, but again we were 10-15 runs short.
“Our bowlers in the power play gave away 50-55 runs which is a lot but we took three wickets. However we couldn’t get wickets in the middle. There are some areas to improve but we are almost there. Losing in the last over means that we were almost in the game and we could have won both matches,” he said with a lot of optimism.
Sri Lanka are using this series to prepare a team for next year’s World T20 and have a young and inexperienced side under the leadership of veteran fast bowler Lasith Malinga.
“It’s very disappointing to end up in a losing side and as Malinga said we are preparing for the T20 World Cup so we are trying some new faces and youngsters. These two matches batting first in both games we were like 10-15 runs short,” said Dickwella.
“Whoever got starts didn’t capitalise on it. The bowlers didn’t do a great job and it’s an ordinary performance by us in these two games. They are trying new faces but eventually new players will perform and get a stable place in the team, then it will be a benefit for the team in the future.”
On both occasions Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to bat first and lost the contest.
“Both matches we played on new surfaces and at this time of the day the pitches are dry and it will assist the spinners the longer you play on it. That is why we decided to bat first on both occasions,” said Dickwella.
“The other factor is because we were playing a young side we don’t have a big advantage in experience. Our aim was to put up a reasonable total for our bowlers to bowl at otherwise if we have to chase a big target batting second it would be difficult for us to chase under lights.
“But at the end of the day New Zealand batted against our bowlers really well, their spinners did a great job on a slow wicket. They did what you need to do on this wicket. Our bowlers did a good job but it was an ordinary performance,” he said.
Dickwella was of the view that the players will have to be mentally stronger especially when fielding under lights. Sri Lankan fielders put down vital catches at crucial moments of the game that saw them end up on the losing side.
Dasun Shanaka dropped Ross Taylor in the first match and on Tuesday substitute fielder Lahiru Madushanka spilled a catch from Colin de Grandhomme when he was on 36. De Grandhomme went onto score 59 and in a partnership of 109 with Tom Bruce won the match for New Zealand.
“Lahiru Madushanka and Dasun Shanaka are good fielders but at that moment they may have lapsed in concentration,” said Dickwella.
“We must get stronger mentally as cricketers on the field and fielding under lights is not easy. We know that we practice a lot our fielding but for our bad luck we miss catches at crucial moments. It is something that I cannot even put a finger on. We hope we will not repeat these mistakes in the future.”
Dickwella was apologetic towards the large crowds that turned up for the two matches.
“I am extremely happy that there was such a big turnout for the matches almost filling the ground to support us. Their expectations are what we carry to win. We don’t go out to lose, we try very hard to win,” said Dickwella.
“The player in the middle knows the challenges that lie ahead of him it is our duty to perform to the expectations of 22 million people who are watching us. The country has come thus far is due to cricket and it is our duty to take it forward. I thank all the fans for coming and supporting us from the first ball to the last and encouraging us. We are extremely sorry for letting them down. I hope in the future we won’t make those mistakes,” he said.