THE POST MORTEM
Posted on April 13th, 2011

Ganeesha David

A deflated population was seen meandering along with their daily life straight after the tremendous led-down in the World Cup last Saturday evening in Mumbai. Like that was not enough of a blow, the most capable hands that hold Sri Lanka cricket Kumar Sangakkara, MahelaJayawardena and Aravinda De Silva captain, vice captain and chief selector tender their resignations, opening out a whole can of worms.

While the country is agog with stories, some honest soul searching and reasoning is required.

Firstly, in the group stages Sri Lanka did not beat any big teams, drawing with Australia, being beaten by Pakistan and beating New Zealand after batting first was not anything to draw too much confidence in their ability.  But having bashed the minnows severely, Sri Lanka recorded the highest net run rate in both groups, giving some of the lesser knowing home-audiences ballooning hope.  Media and commercialism joined the bandwagon and suddenly Sri Lanka had a world conquering side.

The subcontinent had huge advantage for Sri Lanka especially with world class spinners, but Pakistan and India had more potent bowling attacks and batting orders respectively and are less susceptible to spin.  In short the island was simply lucky not to have had to play India or Pakistan in a knock-out stage or semi-final.

England and New Zealand were simply conquered by spin, which left the Caucasian’s wrist-less batsmen flummoxed. Sri Lanka’s successful run chase against England in the quarters  with T M Dilshan and Upul Tharanga both reaching centuries was the biggest cause for the confidence boost by the Sri Lankans.  Depicting perfectly, the phrase’ fortune favours the brave’, their aggressive intent paid rich dividends in the end.  In contrast they made heavy work in the semi-final with a dogged pursuit, careful not to throw away the advantage of having a weaker New Zealand as an opponent.  Of course the Kiwis who were lighting fast in close up fielding with big burly Jessi Ryder showing the way with a stupendously flexible mid-air catch, and were harder to score off than the Englishman. These two victories pop-eyed Sri Lanka’s expectations!

In the final the toss played a part to make it worthy of a World Cup,otherwise  chasing Sri Lanka may have folded cheaply, but again there was the dew factor! If dew was the reason the bowling lost its sting, it can be argued that Sri Lanka lost a second World Cup to conditions (last time they played in the dark)

While there was outrage when Ajantha Mendis was selected to the final World cup squad, today there is outrage as to why he was not selected for the final. Mendis was selected as most teams had still not fathomed him and he could easily bamboozle the tail of any side. The theory worked like a charm!

While so much controversy hedges on the fact that Suraj Randiv was flown in for the final, there is a school of thinking that he was replacing Mendis who has been clearly mastered by the Indians and has gone for plenty and Randiv is a better batsman and fielder and he was expected to do better on the bouncing track .In the last 10 outings vs India, Mendis has had 533 runs scored off 94 overs taking just 9 wickets while Randiv  has had 409 runs scored off 90 overs and taken 8 wickets.  The thinking could have been that while Randiv had done better against the Indians, he  also added impetus with his fielding and conjugated with Tisara Perera to form the batting void that Mathews left.  It must be remembered that no single batsmen or for that matter two, can replace the ingenuity of Angelo Mathews. But on the other hand Mendis had bowled well during the tournament and it was upto the very cricket savvy think tank to make that weighty decision.

By the end of the World Cup India was a different team. They had beaten Australia and Pakistan fair and square and were not in the mood to be bullied or faltered by Sri Lanka.  The only weak point which was the Indian bowling tightened the screws on the free-flowing Sri Lankan batsman at the final. With Yuvraj Singh, ViratKohli and Suresh Raina forming an impetus around the bat, they stifled Sangakkara and Dilshan(31 in 10 overs)after the demise of Upul Tharanga. As it has been repeatedly verbalized, the middle order mediocrity, make the likes of Kumar Sangakkara, MahelaJayawardena and T M Dilshannever reach potency.

Jayawardena clearly making up for all the misses in the previous matches made the World Cup supreme. As a very colourful commentator would say “ƒ”¹…”it was the cherry on top of the cake’ . ; sweet timing, delicate touch and calculated aggression; head and shoulders above everyone else.  A masterful innings, perhaps the best in a World Cup!  The Aravinda de Silva 107 in 124 balls in the 1996 finalwas rated top drawer and under pressure; the Jayawardena one was an exquisite 103 in 88 balls. As De Silva’s  century was with proven batsmen to come at 5,6,7, clearly theJayawardena innings eclipsed it.  While Aravinda hadan arrogance to his,Mahela gently flowed into his. The Jayawardena innings was something for the mantle-piece if that ever could be packaged.  You needed to preserve it to look at it again and again.  De Silva’s will be talked about because it ended in victory, but the Jayawardena innings will just be engraved in some hearts.

275 at a World Cup final would have been a good score by any side.  The advent of Tisara Perera and NuwanKulasekara accents once again the need to be free-flowing vs cautious, but in the end they leaked as many runs as they scored. 

There was one word that was needed against the masterful Indian batting line up – “ƒ”¹…”penetration’  As Kumara Sangakkara so correctly said and even got chastised for saying it,even 350 is not a safe score against that batting line up and in a world cup they would have played their best. India having chased two totals successfully gave them an edge to their confidence and the calmness of certainty.  It was that very certainty that Sri Lanka lacked; their batting depth without Mathews  stopped at Jayawardena.  Safe Mr Samaraweera is a cool head in such a situation, but not giving him long term exposure at the position did not do him justice. He should have played at that position in Australia on the tour preceding the world cup.

 

Having beaten Sri Lanka many times previously, India  had no trepidation of the opponents bowling. Except for Malinga which to India and Pakistan is the only saturation Sri Lanka has, the rest had no effect. You cannot help but get the feeling that Dilhara Fernando was the biggest trick Sri Lanka missed.

 In hindsight a million things can be said.  The question why Kumar Sangakkara did not attack after the two wickets of Sehwag and Tendulkar is one unanswered question. De Silva has mentioned in the post World Cup media conference that Sangakkara was defensive. GautumGambir who steps out to the spinners and steps out to the fastmen, played a steadying innings rotating beautifully. The fact that India has 7 potent batsmen, seems to have missed the Sri Lankan fans who are looking for someone to blame. A dropped catch and run out may have put pressure on India but with one of the best batting line ups in the world in a long time, you get the feeling another hero would have come along.  Even through the equation of run a ball, if you have 150 to get at run a ball and you have 7 batsmen in the dressing room, the writing is on the wall.  If the score was bigger India would have upped their scoring rate further but at least another 25 runs was needed to make India break a sweat.

Also it was 1.2 billion peoples hopes, aspirations and deities vs the 20 million’s; home soil, home crowd and that batting line up!!!

There is so much talk about the last minute selection changes and the addition of Kapugedara.  Chamara Silva had clearly lost his nerve and Sri Lanka couldn’t risk using him again.  The usually nimble Silva’s feet were rooted to the ground a clear sign of lack of confidence. Silva who came in for huge criticism before a single ball in the world cup was bowled, fell way below his regular standards and seemed mentally disintegrated.  The thinking would have been there was nothing lost in bringing someone new.  

The non- preparation of Dinesh Chandimal and Samaraweera in Australia, the inclusion of the two Chamara’s, not planning for the eventuality of facing India or Pakistan by giving Dilhara Fernando a run just to see how much bounce he could get off these wickets and not giving the middle order a run during some of the easy matches are a few blunders by Sri Lanka.

 All in all, there was absolutely no need for anyone to retire and send Sri Lanka Cricket into a whirlpool of disaster; unless there is something more dire than a difference of opinion between the selectors and the team hierarchy.

There would no doubt have had divided thought processes in the dressing room as it is among the cricketeting public, but in general the changes made sense and Sri Lanka fought gallantly, accepted defeat graciously and applauded the opponents magnanimously.

Just like in 2007, where they lost a cup but gained the admiration of the world, this time not just the cricketers, but the country showed the world how to accept defeat.  The skipper’s eloquent speech in his final interview set the tone for this and brought high praise from the Indians. The losing captain stated that the Indians were the clear champions and a photograph of him smiling in his neigbhour’s victorious moment, has made him more famous and his countrymen worshipping.

It can be rightfully said that Sanga’s popularity rose after losing the world cup; where the lesson “ƒ”¹…”how you played the game’ is taught to people.

9 Responses to “THE POST MORTEM”

  1. Samson Says:

    Sanga’s and Murali’s popularity dropped after the loss. Sanga showed how not to play. A group organised a demostration in support of Sanga and only 15 people attended.

    Now it is taking a bigger battering because he plays IPL without coming for practice for the England tour.

  2. Nanda Says:

    Full credit to this writer for bring up the issue of Dilhara Fernando. No giving him a chance in any of the matches ( even after he got Chirs Gale in one or two of the pre-world cup matches) was the biggest sin. Sri Lanka is wasting talent of this fast bowler.
    However the biggest mistake was not mentioned by this writer. Playing one-legged Murali was a huge mistake. Surely we would have done better with Dilhara instead of Murali. Sanga rightly did not want to hand the ball to a spinner at last stages and he had no choice but to use Kulasekara ( the 2nd biggest mistake).
    Dilhara and Malinga – both bowling over 140 kPh would have rattleled Indians much more effectively. What is the point of wicket keeper keeping close to wicket in the 2nd over to a fast bowler ?

  3. Sunil Mahattaya Says:

    Sure Ganeesha!
    “For when that great reporter comes to write against a name
    he asks not if he won or lost but how he played the game!
    But if he ever learnt the truth of how the game was played
    He might reflect on chances lost by decisions unbelayed!”
    He will then write a true report of why the game was lost
    through lacey talk with no insight and blame on who is most!
    responsible and who in time deserve a right befitting roast!

    This was not about popularity rising after losing the world cup; where the lesson about ‘how you played the game’ is taught to people, it was simply a mismanaged ego trip by a skipper who squandered a possible win whose impressive rhetoric did not deliver the world cup to his adoring nation who probably don’t give a fig about his post game antics.

  4. TERRENCE DE SILVA Says:

    EX-CAPT. KUMAR SANGAKKARA IN ADDITION TO WHATEVER QUALITIES & PERSONALITY THAT HE POSSESSES’ IS IN ADDITION EDUCATED IN LAW AND ONE OF THE BASIC THINGS THAT AN ASTUTE LAWYER LEARNS IS THAT HE HAS TO REPRESENT HIS “CLIENT” (WHOEVER WHO PAYS HIM) WITH ALL HIS HEART & SOUL, BE IT FOR THE PROSECUTION OR FOR THE DEFENCE. AND HE HAS DEFINITELY SHOWN THAT HE IS DEFINITELY NOT “NAIVE.” HIS TIMELY RESIGNATION FROM THE SRI LANKA TEAMS CAPTAINCY WAS LEGAL, IN ORDER TO TAKE UP THE CAPTAINCY IN THE VERY LUCRATIVE INDIAN IPL’S QUITE JUSTLY REVEALS HIS SHREWD MERCENARY CHARACTER; WHICH WAS CLOSELY FOLLOWED SUIT BY HIS VICE CAPT. MAHELA JAYAWARDENA.

    WE NEED ONLY TO FEEL SAD FOR THOSE FEW STRAGGLING (VERY NAIVE) FANS OF THEIRS HOLDING UP PLACARDS AT INDEPENDENCE SQUARE IN THE BLAZING TROPICAL SUN BEGGING THEM TO COME BACK. NOTWITHSTANDING THAT THERE WAS “HAY TO MAKE” BY THEIR IDOLS WHILE THE SUN WAS SHINING AT THE BRIGHT & SUNNY INDIAN IPL’S.

    WE ALSO SHOULD NOT FORGET OUR WORLD FAMOUS BOWLER MURALITHARAN RESIGNING FROM PLAYING CRICKET FOR HIS COUNTRY BUT OPTING TO PLAY CRICKET ELSEWHERE FOR PURELY MERCENARY BENEFIT.

    WHO CAN BLAME THEM – THEY ARE FAMILIED MEN WITH MOUTHS TO FEED AND LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO PLEASE ONLY THEIR FANS & REMAIN PENNILESS GENTLEMEN IN THE LONG RUN. COME ON YOU CRICKET LOVERS DO NOT BE DEPRESSED BY YOUR BELOVED CRICKET IDOLS – JUST LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE OF LIFE! ALL IS NOT LOST UNTIL THE LAST BALL IS BOWLED.

  5. aravinda Says:

    Terrence De Silva, don’t write in CAPITAL, no one will read.

  6. Sunil Mahattaya Says:

    Aravinda sounds annoyed and wonder why?
    Terrence has written in caps probably to emphasize the importance of his message and it is well composed! To the contrary it is also easier reading especially relating to an issue as important as this!
    Aravinda seems to have taken umbrage over this as he probably feels like someone who has been reduced from a Capital position to a Simple one somehow if readers get my drift.

  7. De Costa Says:

    Sunil,

    Don’t know whether this the MAN. MAy be not this time!
    If by chance its him, we should encourage him to read the simple ones.
    Let us welcome Aravinda. See what he has to say.
    But he should drop the Capital and argue properly this time without asking our qualifications.
    By the way we too are qualified people.

  8. De Costa Says:

    Sunil,
    Looks like another culprit has opened the mouth. One thing , he is honest. I don’t know why the authorities asked him to come back. We don’t need him any more.
    Problem with our cricketers is they do not know when to retire. Jayasuriya waited until he scored the best average for a batsman = 8 and this fella until his head grown to have confidence to get Tendulkar out with one leg.

  9. Vis8 Says:

    What “let-down”? I am very proud of the way our boys played in the final. Mahela Jayawardene’s innings is still the talk around cricketing circles, and will go down in history very close to Aravinda’s 100. A dropped catch cost us the game, and that’s the way the game is played.

    In case you didn’t see the response from the Sri Lankan people in welcoming our boys read what they said in India, in The Hindu: http://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/article1596833.ece

    The Sri Lankans have shown the whole world what strong and magnanimous people they are. Congratulations!!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

 

 


Copyright © 2019 LankaWeb.com. All Rights Reserved. Powered by Wordpress