Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews lamented the five-time champions' inability to handle pressure after they became the first team to get knocked out of Asia Cup 2018 on Monday, September 17.
The former world champions have been woeful in the 50-over format since the 2016/17 season and the decline was evident in their insipid performances in the ongoing six-team continental tournament.
The 91-run defeat to Afghanistan on Monday was the final blow for the Islanders, who had previously lost the tournament and Group B opener to Bangladesh by 137 runs on Saturday.
"This was shocking from the whole team. Even in the first game, we got all out for 150-odd. Congratulations to Afghanistan as they outplayed us," Mathews said.
"We got a good start [0/1 but then 54/1] but again lost our way in the middle overs. The bowlers did well, the fielding had also improved from the last match. It's just the batting unit that let us down."
Sri Lanka have won only 10 of their last 40 ODIs since 2017. Three of them came against minnows Zimbabwe while two others came in dead rubbers in South Africa after the Proteas had already captured the series earlier this year at home.
The eighth-ranked ODI team were expected to face difficulties in the continental competition, given they were drawn alongside giant-slayers Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Nonetheless, Sri Lanka went down without a fight in both the matches, bringing disappointment to fans and former players who had seen the island nation blossom into a cricketing superpower during the late 90s and the following decade.
Poor batting shows hurt Sri Lanka
In their must-win game against Afghanistan, Sri Lanka were set a target of 250 after Mohammad Shahzad (34), Ihsanullah Janat (45) and Rahmat Shah (72) did the bulk of the scoring at the top.
Sri Lanka never looked like even getting close to the target as the Afghan spin trio of Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Rashid Khan, and Mohammad Nabi picked up six wickets between them to dent the chase.
Skipper Mathews and all-rounder Perera, who had picked up a fifer with the ball, tried to rescue the innings with a 35-run stand for the sixth wicket but a loose shot from the former ended Sri Lanka's hopes.
The Islanders were eventually bowled out for 158 inside 42 overs, 48 hours after they were cleaned up for 124 in chase of 262 against Bangladesh.
"We played better cricket in the later parts of the South Africa series. Just disappointing to see the way the boys went about it. We couldn't handle pressure. Not passing 150 on both occasions is very shocking and disappointing," Mathews added.
Sri Lanka's declining 50-over credentials is a cause for concern as the Cricket World Cup 2019 is only a little more than six months away.
It would need a monumental effort not just from the players but from the support staff and the administration to find the right group of people from this seemingly low-on-confidence group to lead their charge in England next year.