The Sri Lanka cricket team and our hopes for the T20 world cup
Posted on June 15th, 2009

By: Mario Perera, Kadawata

The ecstasy of the previous three matches gave way to the agony of the last. Lowly Ireland nearly humbled the giant killers that we were. The previous matches were mainly won on the strength of the opening partnerships and of course the inevitably brilliant contributions of the three bowling “ƒ”¹…”M’s; Murali, Mendis and Malinga. Yesterday the batting extravaganza of Mahela saved us the blushes. According to commentators we were expected to score anything between 180-200 runs against the Irish fledglings. But the end result was more than pathetic. The captain as he normally does in his post match comments, waxed eloquent about his boys while acknowledging that some further work had to be done. Not a word of praise however for the gallant Irish which would have been a sporting gesture.

 Our openers got us off to flying starts. Yet Jayasuriya’s 81 came under the scrutiny of Ian Chapel. For the second time J’s hook shot was miss timed. According to Chappel, a better fielding side would have done him in. For the second time in this series Jayasuriya got out to the same stroke, an attempted pull on bended knee (as also happened in the IPL). He seemed dissatisfied with the decision which all the commentators thought was the right one. Our openers are very strong on their drives (ground and lofted) and their cuts. They are however vulnerable with the pull, and the hook. Our lads are relatively short in stature. The opposing opening bowlers generally tower over them. Rankin was 6’8 or so. Now the shorter the batsman the lower the swing, while taller the bowler the higher the bounce he gets. A low swinging bat gets the top edge with the resulting long walk to the dug-out. The lesson to learn is; do not pull and hook without observing the bowler and his bounce for a brief spell. Yesterday Dilshan tried it on the second ball of the match. As for Jayasuriya, he should not pull straight balls on bended knee, which has proved his undoing on so many occasions. At 39 he is not the man he was. Our openers must play to their strength and avoid unnecessary risks, all the more because when they fail, the rest flounder. As for Sanga and Mahela, they should avoid the attempted lofted shot over extra cover when the fielder is standing back because they do not clear him. They get most of their sixers with heaves over mid wicket. Our great weakness for the T20 game is that we do not have big hitters like Yuvraj, Pathan and a host of others. This makes the middle and final overs look very unenterprising and listless. In short the game “gets lifted” when the ball is lifted over the ropes and herein lies our problem. We sadly have not shown depth in batting and hardly anyone lower down is capable of “|lifting the game”.

 Now as regards our batting form. Sanga scored once, and Jayawardene too. Mubarak’s two sixers off Brett Lee got us past the Aussies. The rest has been dismal. Look at yesterday’s scoreboard; only three reached double figures, the next highest was 4. Now should there be changes for the remaining matches? I would think so. Chamara has talent and flare, but nevertheless has not delivered. Indika de Saram should fill that slot. In any case he cannot do worse. As for the bowlers the three magnificent “ƒ”¹…”M’s account only for 12 out of the 20 overs. Udana was tried and found wanting. Now, I believe, it is Kulasekara’s turn to return to the benches. His final over yesterday was certainly not what the doctor ordered for blood pressure. I believe that we should revert to Mahroof. The latter can also wield the long handle which is all the more relevant when considering our brittle middle order batting and its debacles.

 

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