Lankans slip sliding from World Cup heroes to near zero
BY TREVINE RODRIGO IN MELBOURNE
Sri Lanka’s triumphant Test match euphoria has quickly dissipated into the previously familiar role of eating humble pie as the South Africans exacted revenge for their embarrassment in the Tests by grinding their opponents into the dust leading 3-0 in the one-dayers in a relentless display of ferocity.
Already, the series has moved into a dead rubber situation with two games remaining as the struggling Sri Lanka lineup find that their horses for courses squad does not match up to the heroes that dethroned the hosts in the two Test series a few weeks prior.
One- day skipper Lasith Malinga’s desperate move to publicly scorn his squad for their lack of respect at being given national selection and reminding them of the pride associated with donning the Sri Lanka cap appears to have added more fuel to the fire rather than douse it judging by the reaction in the third game. Factions within appear to suggest that a change at the head may yet bring out the best from this talented but currently dysfunctional team.
Port Elizabeth and Cape Town beckons in the next two encounters which will be of academic interest before the Lankans figure in three T20’s before departing the Southern Hemisphere with little comfort but plenty to dwell on for their efforts.
What has been clear in the whitewash is that the current squad lack the temperament and depth in their batting as they clearly squandered a chance of winning games they could have after the bowlers did a great job in containing the strong South African batting line- up.
Niroshan Dickwella has failed as an opener and should move down the order for better impact and experienced Upul Tharanga should be made to prove his worth in the squad by filling that role or consider his career over.
The Sri Lankan fielding which was exceptional in the Tests, was appalling to a point where fielding coach Steve Rixon was visibly wincing as if in pain at the morass of mistakes.
Everything fell apart in the rain hampered third match where they let the South Africans get away to a huge total thanks to sloppy fielding and erratic bowling mainly by proven specialists like Thisara Perera whose form or motives need questioning.
With the World Cup fast looming on the horizon Sri Lanka desperately need some wise heads and proper direction in a hurry if they are to avoid humiliation after their proud record in previous editions which included that historic victory in Lahore in 1996. They are winless in six encounters in 2019.