Sri Lanka coach Nic Pothas is looking at their dismal streak of losing seven straight limited-overs matches in the UAE as "five defeats and two good games". When Sri Lanka lost a thrilling T20 on Friday night in Abu Dhabi by two wickets, it was their 15th consecutive loss in limited-overs matches, having last won a match in ODIs or T20Is in July against Zimbabwe. They have won Tests since then - one against Zimbabwe and two against Pakistan - but have not been able to carry the form in the other formats.
"I wouldn't say it is seven defeats," Pothas said after the narrow loss on Friday. "I would say five defeats and two good games. In the five ODIs, we didn't compete. When I look at that, I'm most proud to see the way Pakistan celebrated after winning against that bunch of guys; it makes me very proud. I don't see it is as seven, it is definitely five and two split.
"Yeah, you can say this is the best match we have played. It is funny because we arrived here and played two good Test matches. I'm very happy with those but probably we let ourselves down in the five ODIs. Then this game was super and a bitter pill to swallow."
Sri Lanka started the UAE tour with two Test wins by turning their form around in emphatic fashion after being whitewashed by India across formats at home. Pothas praised the limited-overs squad's attitude even though they had not impressed on this tour, losing four of the last five limited-overs matches by at least seven wickets or more.
"This team arrived just three-four days ago and their attitude, efforts and their passion, I can't fault it," Pothas said. "They have set a great example on what it is like to play for your country and how valuable it is to play for your country. There are a bunch of guys I know are hurting and I couldn't be more proud of them.
"Since I arrived here, I have been telling you that attitude towards your team-mates tells us how much you care about them. These guys care for each other and fight for each other. That's what was asked of them - to compete till the last.
"I don't think I will ever struggle to keep these guys motivated. They are so grateful to be here and they play with a lot of smile on their faces. I don't think it will matter what they were doing as long as they are playing for the country."
In the second T20I on Friday, Sri Lanka managed only 124 for 9 after being asked to bat and their bowlers reduced Pakistan to 104 for 7 and then 113 for 8 in the last over. Shadab Khan's heroics, however, turned the match back in Pakistan's favour. Pothas said his bowlers should have picked more wickets.
"You got to take wickets if you have to win with 124 on board," he said. "I don't think the run rate would have come into the equation out there. The guys did well and they put their batsman under a lot of pressure. One thing I got to say is you got to take hats off to both fielding coaches. You will not see a better fielding display from two subcontinent teams. Obviously that Indian side has got some very good fielders but in one game of cricket, to see that level of fielding you got to give hats off to the players and also to the fielding coaches."