Sri Lanka head coach Chandika Hathurusingha has eventually agreed to claims of him having made the difference after the Lankans got the better of Bangladesh in the tri-nation ODI series final, two-match Test series and the first T20I.
The former Sri Lanka cricketer said he had set specific plans for the Bangladesh players and that it has come off well. Hathurusingha however, wished the Tigers well ahead of the second and final T20I and said he will be watching them closely in future.
Hathurusingha resigning from the Tigers job as the head coach in November last year and making his maiden tour of Bangladesh as Sri Lanka coach had stirred discussions if the home side will be facing an extra challenge in the form of Hathurusingha.
Having worked with the Bangladesh cricketers closely for more than three and a half years, Hathurusingha knows the minutest of details of the current national players. Batsmen or bowlers' strengths or weaknesses, Hathurusingha knows it all.
However, in the recent past the Tigers camp played down the Hathurusingha factor, as well as the man himself.
Hathurusingha during several conversations with the media in the tour of Bangladesh this year said all the teams these days know about each other due to globalisation of the game and players sharing the dressing room in a number of domestic T20 leagues, along with the availability of players' footages.
Hathurusingha though painted a different picture Saturday in the pre-match press conference at Sylhet International Cricket Stadium.
"I think yes, to be honest (my knowledge on Bangladesh made the difference). We had some strategic plans for some of the players. We knew how they would react under pressure," said Hathurusingha.
"They (Bangladesh) came very hard in the first two games, which I had expected. If that didn't happen, I would have been very disappointed. I have never not left something behind. I was happy about it (how Bangladesh had performed initially), and then happy about how we came back as well. All in all, it was a satisfying tour for me personally. But then again, after I leave, I want Bangladesh to do well. I am actually keeping eye on how they are going forward," he added.
When queried if it was surprising for him to see Bangladesh under-perform, Hathurusingha said, "I don't think they panicked. They played really well at the start of the tri-series. They put both teams under pressure playing how they know to play. I think they put doubt on themselves after few failures. I was surprised that they went down that quickly."
Bangladesh stand-in T20I captain Mahmudullah however, opposed the theory and said the situation would have been totally different if the Tigers had performed well.
"He (Hathurusingha) was with us recently. He knows pretty much everything about us. He definitely used that information. He is a quality coach, and he has the capability. But if we had done our job properly, we would have won and we wouldn't have had to talk about this. It was upon us to do something good so we remain hopeful about the last match," said Mahmudullah.
Besides making life tough for Bangladesh, Hathurusingha's input came in extremely handy for the Lankans, who have been going through a transitional period for quite some time now after the retirement of legendary cricketers like Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, among others.
"Actually I am very pleased with the response I got from the (Sri Lanka) players. I think it has got to do with the familiarity of being with my country. It helped me to communicate better. It took time but they responded very well to the challenges," said Hathurusingha.
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