Southern Express, who were knocked out at the qualifying stage of the Champions League T20, were handicapped by the absence of Tillakaratne Dilshan and Lasith Malinga, according to their manager.
"[Tillakaratne] Dilshan's absence had a psychological effect on the team. Everyone was upbeat with Dilshan's inclusion in the team," Southern Express manager Shane Fernando said. "We were hoping that he and Kusal Perera would provide the ideal start to our batting.
"The team would have benefited not only from Dilshan's batting but also from his bowling and fielding."
While Dilshan, who was a doubt for the tournament anyway due to an injury sustained when playing for English county Surrey, pulled out of the event due to family commitments, Malinga chose to play for the Mumbai Indians, his IPL franchise, instead of his home team.
"We were also without another world-class T20 performer Lasith Malinga who opted to play for Mumbai Indians," said Fernando. "Malinga was instrumental in Southern Express qualifying to play in the Champions League when we emerged winners of the SLC Super Fours T20."
Apart from missing two of their biggest stars, Fernando feels that the Southern Express, who lost every qualifier and thereby finished last in the table, also lacked the know-how of playing T20 cricket under lights.
"We had the talent, but most of the younger players had little exposure to playing T20 cricket and playing under lights," Fernando said. "The occasion became a little too big for them.
"Although our team preparations were good and we went with a good chance of qualifying these little factors proved decisive in our final result."