SRI LANKA CRICKET NEWS (DECEMBER 2019) – Compiled by Victor Melder

Victor Meldor

Pakistan will be hosting Test cricket for the first time in more than ten years, that too against a full-strength Sri Lanka line-up, in December 2019. Dimuth Karunaratne will lead the Sri Lanka side, with experienced batsmen Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal present in the 16-member squad. The team leaves for Pakistan on December 8 to play two Test matches that will count towards the World Test Championship. Less than three months ago, Sri Lanka had toured Pakistan for a series of limited-overs matches, but as many as ten high-profile players had opted against travelling. The Test series was originally scheduled for October at a neutral venue because of security concerns, but the PCB requested Sri Lanka to play the entire bilateral series in Pakistan. The white-ball games were played as a test of sorts for the security measures taken by the hosts, and following the success of that tour, Sri Lanka agreed to play the Tests in Pakistan too. There was only one change to the Sri Lanka squad that played the second Test against New Zealand at home in August. Kasun Rajitha, the right-arm fast bowler, replaced leg spinner Akila Dananjaya, who is currently serving a one-year suspension for an illegal action. The first Test will start on December 11 in Rawalpindi, followed by the second in Karachi from December 19. Pakistan has not hosted a Test match since the 2009 Lahore attack that wounded several Sri Lankan cricketers, support staff members and others. Of the current players, fast bowler Suranga Lakmal was part of Sri Lanka’s squad back then as well. (ESPN cricinfo)

The Sri Lanka Test Squad for the Pakistan tour: Dimuth Karunaratne (C), Oshada Fernando, Lasith Embuldeniya, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dinesh Chandimal, Suranga Lakmal, Kusal Mendis, Diiruwan Perera, Lahiru Kumara, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Vishwa Fernando, Kusal Perera, Lakshan Sandakan, Kasun Rajitha and Niroshan Dickwella.

The first Test between the touring Sri Lankans and Pakistan, played at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, Rawapindia, ended in a draw, with rain affecting play. Scores:

Sri Lanka – 1st Innings – 308/6dec (de Silva 102no, Karunaratne 59, B.O.P Fernando 40, Dickwella 33, Mathews 31, Afridi 2/58, Shah

                                          2/92, Shinwari 1/54, Abbas 1/72

Pakistan – 1st Innings – 252/2  Abid.Ali 109no,Azam 102 no, Azhar Ali 36,  Rajitha 1/5, Kumara 1/46)

Player of the Match: Abid Ali (Pakistan)

Test debut: Abid Ali & Usman Shinwari (Pakistan)

Pakistan defeated the touring Sri Lankans by 263 runs to win the second and final test played at Karachi National Stadium, Karachi. Scores:

Pakistan – 1st Innings – 191 (Shafiq 63, Azam 60, Abid Ali 38, Kumara 4/49, Embuldeniya 4/71Fernando 2/31)

Sri Lanka – 1st Innings – 271 (Chandimal 74, Perera 48, de Silva 32, Karunaratne 25,  Afridi 5/77, Abbas 4/55, Sohail 1/11)

Pakistan – 2nd Innings – 555/3 dec (Abid Ali 174, Masood 135, Azar Ali 118, Azam 100no, Kumara 2/139, Embuldeniya 1/193)

Sri Lanka – 2nd Innings – 212 (Fernando 102, Dickwella 65, N. Shah 5/31, Y. Shah 2/84, Sohail 1/10, Abbas 1/33, Afridi 1/51)

Player of the match: Abid Ali (Pakistan)

Player of the series: Abid Ali (Pakistan)

Leading all-rounder Thisara Perera has joined Sri Lanka Army. Thisara has enlisted to the Gajaba Regiment and holds the rank of Brevet Major. He will be playing domestic cricket for Army this season. “General Shavendra Silva invited me to join Army. I have enormous respect for General Shavendra and it was a request that I could not turn down,” Thisara tsaid. Army has been investing a lot to improve their cricket and become a force in the domestic season. Before the ongoing season got underway, Army recruited former Test captain Dinesh Chandimal. Thisara is unlikely to feature in the upcoming three match T-20 series in India. Instead, he will be in Bangladesh playing in the BPL. Army has been nurturing quite a few cricketers over the years. Ajantha Mendis and Seekkuge Prasanna made quite an impact for the soldiers before going onto represent Sri Lanka. Mendis was the hero as Sri Lanka won the Asia Cup in 2008 in Karachi as his mystery spin humbled India’s famous batting line-up. (Daily Island, 3.12.2019)

 

 




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SRI LANKA CRICKET NEWS (AUGUST 2019)Compiled by Victor Melder

Victor Meldor - eLanka

Sri Lanka Cricket has decided to terminate the contract of Chandika Hathurusingha, the Head Coach of the national cricket team, after the two parties failed to come to a mutual agreement to sever ties. Following the ICC Cricket World Cup where Sri Lanka finished sixth, SLC had indicated to the Head Coach that they were looking for a replacement but Hathurusingha was interested in staying on till the end of his contract in December 2020. SLC had agreed to pay him six months of his salary to bring an early end to the contract but Hathurusingha maintained that he could still help development of players. Hathurusingha is expected to fight his case in courts, much like Geoff Marsh, who successfully sued SLC eight years ago after being unceremoniously dumped from his job. Interestingly, it took Marsh four weeks since winning Sri Lanka their maiden Test match in South Africa to be booted out. Similarly, four months after winning a first ever Test series in South Africa, Hathurusingha has been sent home. SLC will indicate the national cricket’s terms poor performances as the reason for the early termination of contract. The board is expected to point out their displeasure at Hathurusingha’s conduct during the ball tampering controversy in the Caribbean last year as well. Hathurusingha will have a strong case to argue in courts as he was stripped of selector’s duty midway through his contract and he will point out that he cannot be held responsible for something that was beyond his control. Meanwhile Chief Operating Officer of SLC Jerome Jayaratne is set to take over as Interim Coach during the bilateral series against New Zealand. Jayaratne, one of the longest serving employees of SLC having joined the governing body in 2000 is a career coach with international reputation. Until 2017, he functioned as Director Coaching when SLC sprung wholesale changes to the coaching set up. The results since then have been disastrous. Jayaratne functioned in a similar role in 2015 after Marvan Atapattu stepped down as Head Coach. He is expected to be retained in his usual position of Director Coaching replacing High Performance Manager Asanka Gurusingha, whose contract will end later this month. (Daily Island, 6.8.2019)

Former Captain Dinesh Chandimal has been named in the 15-member Sri Lanka squad for the first Test against New Zealand, which starts on 14th August in Galle. Chandimal was dropped from all formats for loss of form in the past six months. Since captaining the team in Australia earlier this year, Chandimal missed the South Africa tour, World Cup and the recently-concluded Bangladesh series. However, he will have to fight for a place with wicket-keeper batsman Niroshan Dickwella, who was the vice-captain of the Test team in South Africa, where Sri Lanka recorded a stunning 2-0 win.  Apart from Chandimal, Sri Lanka have also included Angelo Mathews, who missed the South Africa Test series due to a hamstring injury. Mathews, however played a key role with the limited-overs team in the World Cup and won the Player of the Series award against Bangladesh. From the 22-man preliminary squad announced earlier this week, Kasun Rajitha, Asitha Fernando, Danushka Gunathilaka, Shehan Jayasuriya, Chamika Karunaratne, Dilruwan Perera and Angelo Perera have missed out on selection. The more-experienced off-spinning all-rounder, Dilruwan Perera has been left out due to an injury concern and should be available for selection only from the 2nd Test in Colombo. Left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya will be the main strike weapon for the hosts, along with Akila Dananjaya and Lakshan Sandakan as they form a three-pronged spin attack. Dhananjaya De Silva, provides another reliable off-spin option. Suranga Lakmal will be the more experienced seamer out of the three fast-bowlers included. Lahiru Kumara and left-armer Vishwa Fernando complete the attack. Sri Lanka Squad for First Test – Dimuth Karunaratne (Captain), Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Janith Perera, Niroshan Dickwella, Dhananjaya De Silva, Akila Dananjaya, Lasith Embuldeniya, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Kumara, Oshada Fernando, Lakshan Sandakan, Vishwa Fernando. (Daily Island, 10.8.2019)

The three-day warm-up match between the touring New Zealanders and the Sri Lanka Board President’s XI, played at the FTZ Sports Complex (BOI), Katunayake ended in a draw. Scores:

Sri Lanka Board President’s XI – 323/6 dec (Gunathilaka 98, Samarawickrama 80, Priyanjan 56no, Nisanka 35, A.K.Perera 32, Patel 5/41, Somerville 1/70)

Sri Lanka defeated the touring New Zealanders by 6 wickets to win the first Test played at the Galle International Stadium. Scores:

NZ, 1st Innings – 249 (Taylor 86, Nicholls 42, Raval 33, Latham 30, Dananjaya 5/80, Lakmal 4/29)

Sri Lanka, 1st Innings – 267 (Dickwella 61, Mendis 53, Mathews 50, Lakmal 40, Karunaratne 39, Patel 5/89, Somerville  3/83, Boult 2/45)

NZ, 2nd Innings – 285 (Walling 77, Latham 45, Somerville 40no, Embuldeniya 4/90, de Silva 3/25, Kumara 2/31)

Sri Lanka, 2nd Innings – 268/4 (Karunaratne 122, Thirimanne 64, Boult 1/34)

Player of the Match: Dimuth Karunaratne (Sri Lanka)  

The touring New Zealanders beat Sri Lanka by an Innings and 65 runs to win the Second Test, played at the P.Sara Oval, Colombo. Scores:

Sri Lanka, 1st Innings – 244 (De Silva109, Karunaratne 65, Mendis 32, Southee 4/63, Boult 3/75, Sommerville 1/20, Grandhomme 1/35, Patel 1/48)

New Zealand 1st Innings – 431/6 dec (Latham 154, Watling 105, Grandhomme 83, Perera 3/114, Embuldeniya 2/156, Kumara 1/115)

Sri Lanka, 2nd Innings – 122 (Dickwella 51, Mendis 20, Southee 2/15, Boult 2/17, Patel 2/31, Somerville 2/49)

Player of the Match: Tom Latham (New Zealand)

Player of the Series: B. J. Watling (New Zealand)

The 2-match series was levelled 1-1.  




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SRI LANKA CRICKET’S AMAZING TURNAROUND – BY TREVINE RODRIGO IN MELBOURNE

SRI LANKA CRICKET

Dimuth Karunaratne

Dimuth Karunaratne

If motivation comes from within, it should not be activated by the misfortune of others as Sri Lanka’s cricketing fortunes appear to indicate. The sacking of the coach and the installation of a new leader appears to have done just that judging by the sudden dominance of an ordinary looking line up that struggled against all-comers till now.

installation of a new leader appears to have done just that judging by the sudden dominance of an ordinary looking line up that struggled against all-comers till now.

Rising like the proverbial Phoenix from the ashes of a horrendous past few months, Sri Lanka under new skipper Dimuth Karunaratne have discovered a new confidence which has turned things around and brought with it unprecedented success.

Following up on a better than expected World Cup performance, the Lankans have shown dramatic improvement and a newfound mindset which saw them merciless in crushing Bangladesh 3-0 in the one-day series in Colombo. The Bangladeshis have proved that they
are no pushovers in the modern environment and the hiding they received is an indication of Sri Lanka’s growing maturity despite the constant chopping and changing of the squad.

Following up on the success against Bangladesh, Sri Lanka have now grabbed a 1-0 lead in the World Test Championship with a comprehensive 6-wicket win over the high riding New Zealanders. That gives Karunaratne a 100 per cent Test captaincy record with three
consecutive wins following the team’s success in South Africa.

Diehard fans have been scratching their heads wondering what happened so quickly to turn things around. Surely it cannot be just the change in the Captain. And they are now functioning without a Coach after Chandika Hathurusinghe was given his marching orders
following a mediocre return for a handsome paycheck and high expectation.

Many feel that Hathurusinghe was a victim of circumstance and some pig headed members of the team who did not like his coaching style who then proceeded to orchestrate his failure and removal. Such is Sri Lanka’s style historically, that only in chaos and confusion
can they perform at unexpected levels. This was confirmed to me many years ago by a star member of the past who said to me. “Trying to make Sri Lanka perform under a structured process is almost impossible. There will always be personality clashes and divided opinion as they wade through a pool of confrontation”.

Dimuth Karunaratne has emerged as the man for a crisis picking up the pieces of a fragmented set up and cautiously exploring the avenues open to him. He openly admits drawing on the experience of the seniors in the squad before tinkering it to his own plans.

It’s obviously working for him and the team as they build towards an era similar to the one
commandeered by the likes of Mahela Jayawardena, Kumar Sangakkara, Mutthiah muralidaran, Sanath Jayasuriya, Tillekeratne Dilshan, Chaminda Vaas, Lasith Malinga and many others.

The Test in Galle against the Kiwis was a low scoring affair with Sri Lanka succumbing to New Zealand tweaker Ajaz Patel who grabbed 5 for 89 to restrict them to 267 after New Zealand were bundled out for 249 falling to the wiles of Akila Dhananjaya 5 for 80 and
seamer Suranga Lakmal 4 for 29.

New Zealand fought back to get 285 in their second stint leaving Sri Lanka an imposing target of 266 on a quickly deteriorating wicket. Skipper Dimuth Karunaratne led from the front and with Lahiru Thirimanne cautiously negotiated a century opening stand to lay the
platform for a memorable run chase which resulted in a six-wicket victory. Karunaratne was fittingly named man-of-the-match.

“I had a positive approach to this innings,” Karunaratne said. “We were watching the batsmen that did make runs, and we noted how they went about it. After the ball became a bit softer it became easier to bat, and then it was a case of using your feet to the spinners. We had a plan to do that, and we knew that whoever got a start needed to go big. Both myself and Thirimanne were able to do that. We batted well yesterday, and this morning we added a good 30 runs to that partnership. We set ourselves little targets and broke the chase down.”

“Keeping New Zealand to around 250 in the first innings was a big thing. We made sure that for the shots that are easy to hit – shots with the spin for example – were covered off by fielders on the boundary. If a bowler bowled a bad ball, we needed that to cost only one run, because that’s a big advantage. There was a good chance bowler would deliver good balls, because the pitch was taking turn, but in the meantime, we needed the bad balls not to cost us. It was really important that we didn’t let them get away from us at any stage.”
The makeup of the current squad boasts of some outstanding emerging talent in the likes of Avishka Fernando, Oshada Fernando, Lasith Embuldeniya, Akila Dhananjaya, Dhananjaya De Silva, Kusal Mendis and Lahiru Kumara to name a few.

The future appears to be back on track for Sri Lanka and the hope is that less meddling by the administrators will enable them to climb back to the status of respect they once commanded

Their visit to Australia this summer for a T20 series is now much looked forward to.

NEW ZEALAND 249(83.2 OVERS)
1ST INNINGS
• Ross Taylor86 (132)
• Henry Nicholls42 (78)
• Suranga Lakmal4/29 (15.2)
• Akila Dananjaya5/80 (30)

SRI LANKA 267(93.2 OVERS)
1ST INNINGS
• Niroshan Dickwella61 (109)
• Kusal Mendis53 (89)
• William Somerville3/83 (22.2)
• Ajaz Patel5/89 (33)

NEW ZEALAND 285(106 OVERS)
2ND INNINGS
• BJ Watling77 (173)
• Tom Latham45 (81)
• Dhananjaya de Silva3/25 (12)
• Lasith Embuldeniya4/99 (37)

SRI LANKA 268/4(86.1 OVERS)
2ND INNINGS
• Dimuth Karunaratne122 (243)
• Lahiru Thirimanne64 (163)
• Tim Southee1/33 (12)
• Trent Boult1/34 (9.1)

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SRI LANKA CRICKET NEWS – JULY 2019

               Compiled by Victor Melder

Victor Meldor - eLanka

Sri Lanka defeated West Indies by 23 runs, winning the 39th Match of the One-Day International Series, played at Riverside Grounds, Chester-le-Street.

Scores:

Sri Lanka – 338/6 in 50 Overs (Fernando 104, M.Perera 64, Thirimanne 45no, Mendis 39, Karunaratne 32,  Holder 2/59, Allen 1/44,  Thomas 1/58, Cottrell 1/69)

West Indies – 315/9 in 50 Overs (Pooran 118, Allen 51, Gayle 35, Malinga 3/55, Mathews 1/6, Vandersay 1/50, Rajitha 1/76)

Player of the Match: Avishka Fernando, Sri Lanka

India defeated Sri Lanka by 7 wickets, winning the 44th Match of the One-Day International Series, played at Headingley, Leeds.

Scores:

Sri Lanka – 264/7 in 50 Overs (Mathews 113, Thirimanne 53, de Silva 29no, Bumrah 3/37, Jadeja 1/40, Pandya 1/50, Yadav 1/58, Kumar 1/73)

India – 265/3 in 43.3 Overs (Rahul 111, Sharma 103, Kohli 34no,  Rajitha 1/47, Udana 1/50, Malinga 1/82)

Player of the Match: Rohit  Sharma (India)

Ranjan Madugalle, the chief among ICC Match Referees has been chosen once again as the head of the match officials for the epic final between New Zealand and England. This will be the 60-year-old’s fourth World Cup final having officiated in the 1999, 2003 and 2015 finals. The former Test captain missed only three World Cup finals since joining the ICC in 1993 and that’s because in 1996, 2007 and 2011 Sri Lanka were in the final. Madugalle is a highly respected official and has been chosen to officiate some key ICC events and important bilateral series like the Ashes. His balanced decisions, communications skills, chilled out exterior but steely convictions has earned the admiration of all nations. It is said that Madugalle has mastered the art of diplomacy so well that when he tells a player to go to hell, he does it in such a way that the player in fact looks forward for the trip. He fined Jason Roy 30 percent of his match fee for showing dissent after being given out in the semi-final against Australia in Birmingham. Umpire Kumar Dharmasena has been also chosen to stand in the game as an on-field umpire alongside South Africa’s Marais Erasmus. During Thursday’s semi-final, it looked as if Dharmasena had cooked his goose after he gave a bad decision. The former Test cricketer ruled Roy caught behind when the bat was nowhere near resulting in an angry outburst by the batsman. England had no reviews left and were left fuming. Thankfully, the decision didn’t cost them the game. Apart from that one poor decision, Dharmasena had a very good game and rarely his decisions were overturned. Dharmasena also officiated in the last World Cup final when Australia beat New Zealand at MCG. He was recently ranked world’s best umpire. Dharmasena was  a member of the Sri Lankan side that won the 1996 World Cup. He concentrated on a career in banking after retiring from the sport and took up umpiring as a hobby. But in 2008, he was fast tracked as an international umpire by Sri Lanka Cricket and in a very short period made an impact. (Daily Island, 13.7.2019)

New Zealand will tour Sri Lanka, from August 3, 2019 to September 7, 2019, playing Two test Matches and Three T20 Matches. They will play one Test at Galle and the other in Colombo. The T20 matches will be, two in Colombo and one in Kandy. They will also play a 3-day Warm-Up Match, prior to the Test’s and a T20 Warm-Up match prior to the T20 matches. (SLC Media Release, 5.7.2019))

Sri Lanka named an unprecedented squad of 22 players for just three ODI matches against Bangladesh starting on July 26.

Sri Lanka squad: Dimuth Karunaratne (captain), Kusal Perera, Avishka Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Lahiru Thirimanne, Shehan Jayasuriya, Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Danushka Gunetilleke, Dasun Chanaka, Wanidu Hasaranga, Akila Dananjaya, Amila Aponso, Lakshan Sandakan, Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Pradeep, Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Kumara, Thisara Perera, Isuru Udana, Lahiru Madushanka (Sunday Observer, 21.7.2019)

The touring Bangladeshi’s, beat the Sri Lanka Board President’s XI by 5 wickets to win the One-Day Warm-Up match, played at the P. Sara Oval, Colombo. Scores:

Sri Lanka Board President’s XI 282/8 in 50 Overs (Shanaka 86no, Jayasuriya 56, Rajapaksa 32, de Silva 28, Gunathilaka 26, Sarkar 2/29, Hossain 2/31, Reza 1/22, Rahman 1/29, Ahmed 1/57)

Bangladesh – 285/5 in 48.1 Overs (Mithun 91, Rahim 50, Iqbal 37,  Mahamudullah 33, Rahman 31no, Kumara 2/26, de Silva 1/39, Dananjaya 1/47, Rajitha 1/57) 

Sri Lanka beat the touring Bangladeshi’s by 91 runs to win the First ODI, played at the R.Premadasa Stadium, Khettarama, Colombo. Scores:

Sri Lanka – 314/8 in 50 Overs (M. Perera 111, Mathews 48, Mendis 43, Karunaratne 36, Islam 3/62, Rahman 2/75, Sarkar 1/17, Uossain 1/54, Miraz 1/56)

Bangladesh – 223 in 41.4 Overs (Rahim 67, Rahman 60, Malinga 3/38, Pradeep 3/51, de Silva 2/49, Kumara 1/45) 

Player of the Match: Kusal Perera (Sri Lanka)  

Lasith Malinga shone in his farewell match after Kusal Perera struck a quick-fire century as Sri Lanka crushed Bangladesh by 91 runs in the first one-day of a three-match series in Colombo on Friday. Malinga rattled Bangladesh with his fiery opening spell, reducing the visitors to 39-4 in the process, without allowing them to recover from the damage despite the best efforts by Mushfiqur Rahim and Sabbir Rahman. Mushfiqur made 67 while Sabbir added 60 as the duo shared an 111-run partnership for the fifth wicket but Bangladesh stuttered to 223 all out in 41.4 overs replying to Sri Lanka’s 314-8. Retiring Malinga claimed 3-38 while Nuwan Pradeep (3-51) and Dhananjaya de Silva (2-49) played their parts in the win. “I feel it’s the right time for me to retire from ODIs. I have been playing for the last 15 years for Sri Lanka and this is the right time to move on,” Malinga, who finished his ODI career with 338 wickets, said after the game. “My time is over and I have to go.” (Sunday Island, 28.7.2019)

Sri Lanka beat the touring Bangladeshi’s by 7 wickets to win the Second ODI, played at the R.Premadasa Stadium, Khettarama, Colombo. Scores:

Bangladesh – 238/8 in 50 Overs (Rahim 98no, Miraz 43, Dananjaya 2/39, Pradeep 2/53, Udana 2/58)

Sri Lanka – 242/3 in 44.4 Overs (Fernando 82, Mathews 52no, Mendis 41no, M. Perera 30, Rahman 2/50, Miraz 1/51)

Player of the Match: Avishka Fernando (Sri Lanka)

Sri Lanka beat the touring Bangladeshi’s by 122runs to win the Third and final ODI, played at the R.Premadasa Stadium, Khettarama, Colombo. Scores:

Sri Lanka – 294/8 in 50 Overs (Mathews 87, Mendis 54, Karunaratne 46, M. Perera 42, Shanaka 30, Sarkar 3/56, S. Islam 3/68, T. Islam 1/34, Hossain 1/55)

Bangladesh – 172 in 36 Overs (Sarkar 69, T. Islam 39no,  Shanaka 3/27, Rajitha 2/17, Kumara 2/26, de Silva 1/16, Dananjaya 1/44)

Player of the Match: Angelo Mathews (Sri Lanka)

Player of the Series: Angelo Mathews (Sri Lanka)

Sri Lanka won the 3-match series 3-0

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Lasith Malinga

Lasith Malinga in action for the last time

 

Much improved Sri Lanka exit before semis – BY TREVINE RODRIGO IN MELBOURNE

England grabbed the World Cup in controversial manner after an epic final against a plucky New Zealand and debate will rage into the next episode about the fairness of the competition rules which crowned them champions for the very first time.

After scores were tied at the end of the England innings and tied again after the super over it seemed a travesty of justice that the number of boundaries scored by the two sides ultimately decided a winner. To make matters worse one boundary by a deflected default in the crucial stages.

All in all, it was a wonderful competition highlighted by some close encounters and apart from quickly emerging Afghanistan, there was little to choose from the other competing teams which augurs well for the sport on a global level.

The ICC must be chaffed at the tremendous response it received for the tournament which registered record interest from around the world. Billions of viewers took in this World Cup which saw some titanic contests the only downside proving to be the unseasonal rain which caused the abandonment of some crucial games.

Pre-tournament favourites, Australia, India and hosts England cruised through to the semis but my dark horse to win the tournament New Zealand, scrambled through to the final four before stunning India in the semi-final to have a second crack at glory after being undone by Australia in the last episode. Sadly, it was not to be once more for Kane Williamson’s men who did everything but win a nail-biting final.

Sri Lanka under Dimuth Karunaratne showed glimpses of fight before being bundled out before the World Cup semifinal but dispelled all the doom and gloom predicted by their detractors prior to the tournament.

Amidst the usual turmoil that is now customary in Sri Lanka cricket, they went into the important event half baked and seemingly not expected to beat anyone according to the experts outside the boundary.

Yet, the returned home with three wins, two no results washed out by unseasonal rain and losses to Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and India, two of them winnable if they capitalized on early ascendency.

On reflection now, Sri Lanka had the rare distinction of knocking off the eventual World champion England in a stunning upset while also claiming wins over Afghanistan and the West Indies. They missed out on the semis by 3 points ending sixth ahead of South Africa, West Indies, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. England lost three games falling to Pakistan, Australia and Sri Lanka before storming into the semis.

Under Dimuth Karunaratne whose selection to lead came under fire from critics who stereotyped him a Test cricketer only, he went on to prove many wrong, heading the batting averages at the outset before failing in the last few games. What he gave the team was stability at the top and clever leadership drawing from the experience of the senior players in the squad before executing his plans. He also helped heal the division between certain members in the team.

Sr Lanka will also rue some poor selections to the squad which would definitely have benefitted with the inclusion of Niroshan Dickwella, Dinesh Chandimal, the latter for his experience although out of form, perhaps Dhanushka Gunatillake and a better all-rounder than Thisara Perera who had a horrid run.

Sri Lanka fans are hopeful that a more settled line-up will travel to Australia this summer and are in anticipation that they will produce a better showing than the last time they toured here.

 

 

 

 

 

 




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Angelo Mathews and the craziest ball of the 2019 World Cup – Andrew Fidel Fernando at Chester-le-Street

Source: CricInfo

Gather round, kiddos. Let me tell you a story about Sri Lankan cricket. What would you like to hear? The story about how Dimuth Karunaratne, who hadn’t played ODI cricket for four years, became captain for the 2019 World Cup. Ah, that is a good one. Crazy, no? Unbelievable even. All the things you want in a good story. Or what about the tale of the Sri Lankan selectors who picked about five wrong players in a squad of 15 for the tournament? That is not that hard to believe, I suppose, but it’s not bad as well.

But actually, lamayi, the one I’m thinking about is even better than those two. It’s dramatic. It’s funny. It’s colourful. It is hauntingly sad and fabulously uplifting at the same time. Like the best stories, it has so many layers. Most of all, it’s beyond insane.

Watch on Hotstar (India only)West Indies’ fall of wickets

Let me tell you about the time Angelo Mathews took a wicket with his first ball of the World Cup, and won the match for Sri Lanka.

So there once was a player called Mathews. He was captaining the team around late 2018, if I remember right. Then he ran out two team-mates at the Asia Cup, and the selectors sacked him from the captaincy, and dropped him from the team. As if that was all not enough, the coach who had asked him to become captain in the first place, essentially called him fat in the most roundabout and traumatic way possible.

This sounds like this should be the ending of the story, no? It’s not. Just wait. This is just the start.

So this Mathews mopes around for about a month after being left out of the limited-overs teams, but soon enough, he gets picked for Tests. Fellow is still bloody seething at the coach. So when he makes a couple of half-centuries in the Test series against England, he points to his bat and does a yapping sign with his gloves, to show that he’s “letting the bat do the talking”. You know these young buggers, no? Always have to make a big show of everything.

Angelo Mathews

Angelo Mathews dismissed Nicholas Pooran off his first delivery to seal the match for Sri Lanka Getty Images

In the next series, in New Zealand, he does something even bigger. With Sri Lanka battling to save the Test, fellow bats a whole entire day with the same partner, against one of the best attacks in the world. He gets to a hundred, and guess what? He drops to the ground, does 10 push ups, looks at the dressing room, and flexes his biceps. Can you imagine? Bugger is basically at open war with the coach. He’s telling him: look how strong I am. Look how fit. I can bat an entire day, and another session besides. He even started bowling again in that series. Foo! Fellow was giving his critics a nice slap.

ALSO READ: Avishka, bowlers hand West Indies another defeat

Oh. What does he do in the next Test the following week, you ask? He tears a hamstring while running a two and is ruled out of all cricket for another four months, of course.

Now, Mathews’ calves and hamstrings are not like your legs or my legs. He played a lot of cricket in three years when he was captain, and ever since then he seemed to be missing more cricket than he played, because of injuries. He stopped bowling for months on end. He broke down as soon as he started again. It got to the stage where he would get injured if he even thought about bowling.

So eventually, Mathews made it back into the one-day team, thanks to the sacking of the selectors who had sacked him. During this period there is so much infighting within the national team, that the sports minister gets Mathews and some other senior players together for a chat after Lasith Malinga’s wife makes fun of Thisara Perera on Facebook (this is a crazy story for another time).

Anyway, Mathews rolls up to the World Cup, and Sri Lanka would love for him to be bowling. They could really do with the seam movement he offers with the new ball, and the control he gives during the middle overs. If they got overs from him, they could have played an extra batsman, which could have solved some of their batting issues (but probably not, though, who are we kidding?).

“Then in it comes, a 115kph, floating petal of a delivery – a ball Pooran should send screaming through the covers. Instead, through some quirk of physics, he edges it”

But of course, either fellow doesn’t want to bowl, or the trainers have told him not to. It’s too much of a risk. He gets into the team because of his batting anyway. And look at the way he moves around the field. Children in the stands have become middle-aged slobs with beer guts in the time it takes him to complete one chase down to the boundary.

Now, listen. Remember all that. Because it all comes to a head in the game against West Indies. Sri Lanka have batted well for the first time in the tournament and put up a big score, but what do you know, these Carribbean fellows seem desperate to chase it down. One young guy, Nicholas Pooran, is playing the innings of his life, hitting every bowler – the great Malinga included – to every part of a pretty big ground in Durham. They only have to get 31 off three overs, and the Sri Lankan captain has a huge problem: there is no one to bowl two of the last three overs. The selectors have screwed up the squad so much that the only specialist spinner they’ve brought on tour has been taken apart by the West Indies middle order. He’s going at well over seven an over. There’s no way he can bowl his full 10.

And then it happens. Mathews goes to the captain. Not the captain that replaced him as captain. Oh no. This is the captain that replaced the captain that replaced the captain that replaced him. All in the space of nine months. He says to this captain: “I know I haven’t been bowling, but I have experience.” So this sometime allrounder, who now has legs so fragile that you can’t even look at them for more than five seconds straight because even that is too much of a strain, playing in a World Cup he was so set on not bowling in that he’d not delivered a single ball in the nets for eight entire months, playing for a team coached by a guy he’s recently been at war with, getting ready to bowl the high-pressure 48th over in a match that the opposition is very nearly winning.

Eight months! Not a single rolling over of the arm for eight months. How does he possibly hope to even land it on the pitch? Forget bowling in a high-pressure international – if a normal person tried to so much as scratch their nose after not having done it for eight months, they’d probably get it so wrong they’d punch themselves in the face.

WATCH on Hotstar (India only) – Avishka Fernando’s hundred

But, incredibly, Mathews steams in almost from the sightscreen like a stampede of water buffalo, wind flowing throw his hair, a kinetic portrait of machismo, and hurls down a monstrous 150kph bouncer that has flames coming out of it, which Pooran has no choice but to fend straight to gully.

No, I’m kidding, of course. That would be crazy for Mathews. But what actually happens is in some ways, even crazier. Instead, our guy ambles in, off his very modest run up, taking the most ginger steps. Pooran, who has been middling everything like he has a bazooka hidden in his bat, awaits him, low in his stance, like a wound-up spring, but muscular. And, in it comes, a 115kph, floating flower petal of a delivery. (Most fast bowlers have slower balls that are a good 5kph faster than this.) It wafts in with the breeze, pitches on an utterly unintimidating length, squirts off the surface, a little wide of off stump – a ball Pooran in this form should send screaming through the covers. Instead, through some inexplicable quirk of physics, he edges it. The keeper completes the catch. Mathews is punching the air with more vigour than he bowled that ball with. Team-mates coming into mob him are at risk of getting their lights knocked out.

WATCH on Hotstar (US only) – SL v WI – Full highlights

The match is basically over. West Indies fans have their heads in their hands. Sri Lankans are screaming and dancing. On air, Kumar Sangakkara, who will have known every detail that led up to this wicket, is trying to contain his giggles and failing. Nothing was riding on this match in reality, but for half an hour it had felt like everything was. Pooran, out for 118 off 103 balls, is devastated. Malinga bowls the next over, but even if he concedes three sixes, it doesn’t matter – there’s another over from flower-petal bowler Mathews coming up.

Sri Lanka win by 23, and there’s dancing all around the ground. And that, children, is the story of the craziest ball of the 2019 World Cup.

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SRI LANKA CRICKET NEWS
(MAY 2019)
Compiled by Victor Melder

 

                                                     

 

Sri Lanka have slipped to number nine in the official ICC Rankings that was updated yesterday. Dimuth Karunaratne’s side is ranked sixth in Test cricket. India finished top of the Test rankings while England finished number one in ODIs. The ninth rank is Sri Lanka’s lowest and now they are in jeopardy of not qualifying for further ICC events directly.

ICC Test Team Rankings

1 India 113 (-3), 2 New Zealand 111 (+3), 3 South Africa 108 (+3), 4 England 105 (+1), 5 Australia 98 (-6), 6 Sri Lanka 94 (+1), 7 Pakistan 84 (-4), 8 West Indies 82 (+5), 9 Bangladesh 65 (-3), 10 Zimbabwe 16 (+3)

ICC ODI Team Rankings – Rank Team Points

1 England 123 (-), 2 India 121 (+1), 3 South Africa 115 (+3), 4 New Zealand 113 (+1), 5 Australia 109 (+1), 6 Pakistan 96 (-1), 7 Bangladesh 86 (-4), 8 West Indies 80 (+4), 9 Sri Lanka 76 (-), 10 Afghanistan 64 (-), 11 Zimbabwe 54 (+1), 12 Ireland 46 (+3), 13 Scotland 40 (+7). (Daily Island, 3.5.2019)

Having spent ten days in the United Kingdom acclimatizing to the conditions, the national cricket team will feature in their first game of the long tour when they take on Scotland in an ODI today in Edinburgh. The two match series is preparation ahead of the World Cup campaign that beings early next month. These two games will give an opportunity for the Sri Lankan management to decide on their composition for the World Cup campaign. Players like Angelo Mathews, Kusal Janith Perera and Nuwan Pradeep, who are returning from injuries, will be on show in today’s game. Not just for the three of them, but for majority of Sri Lankan players in the squad, the two games will be an opportunity to find their ODI form. Sri Lanka’s selectors surprised everyone when they picked as many as five players in their World Cup squad, who had not featured in an ODI for more than 18 months. Captain Dimuth Karunaratne and leg-spinner Jeewan Mendis haven’t played an ODI for more than four years. Premier fast bowler Lasith Malinga has been rested for the two games. Scotland and Sri Lanka have played two ODIs so far with Sri Lanka  winning both encounters. The Sri Lanka Squad (From):    Dimuth Karunaratne (Captain), Lasith Malinga, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Kusal Janith Perera (wk), Avishka Fernando, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera, Isuru Udana,  Milinda Siriwardena, Jeewan Mendis, Jefferey Vandersay, Suranga Lakmal and  Nuwan Pradeep. (Daily Island, 18.5.2019)

The first ODI between Sri Lanka and Scotland yesterday at Edinburgh was called off without a ball being bowled due to inclement weather. (Sunday Island, 19.5.2019)

Britain’s leading newspaper The Daily Telegraph claims that corruption investigations in Sri Lanka will drag on at least till the end of this year and that more individuals will be charged before September, possibly after the World Cup. Sri Lankan cricket is rocked by serious allegations of corruption with former Test captain Sanath Jayasuriya banned from the game for two years and several other individuals charged. Former Fast Bowling Coach Nuwan Zoysa, former Batting Coach Avishka Gunawardene, former all-rounder Dilhara Lokuhettige and Sri Lanka Cricket’s Performance Analyst Sanath Jayasundara have been all charged for various breaches of the Anti Corruption Code. The newspaper reported that the focus of the ICC Anti Corruption Unit at the moment will be to ensure a corruption free Cricket World Cup, the sport’s showpiece event. It said that the investigators have taken the extraordinary step to warn suspected match fixers against travelling to England for the World Cup having launched the biggest ever protection operation ahead of the ten team event that will get underway later this month in England and Wales. As a result, anti-corruption officers will be posted with each of the ten teams, a step undertaken for the first time. In addition, there will be two investigators and one evidence analyst on duty throughout the tournament. The ICC has also taken steps to contact suspected match fixers through solicitors and warned them that they will be thrown out of cricket grounds if they were spotted during a game. The game’s governing body is confident that the World Cup will be clean and poses a low risk due to extra security measures. “Badly run events attract the corrupters and they look for vulnerabilities in events and players but the World Cup is highly organised, well run, well governed and the players are well protected so we expect it to be clean,” Alex Marshall, the General Manager of the ICC’s Anti-Corruption unit was quoted as saying.  (Daily Island, 21.5.2019)

South Africa beat Sri Lanka by 87 runs, to win their ICC World Cup Warm-up match, played at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff, UK. Scores:

South Africa – 338/7 in 50 Overs (du Plessis 88, Amla 65, van der Dussen 40, Phehlukwayo 35, Lakmal 2/63, Pradeep 2/77, Udana 1/42, de Silva 1/44, Mendis 1/45)  

Sri Lanka – 251 all out in 42.3 Overs (Karunaratne 87, Mathews 64, Mendis 37, Phehlukwayo 4/36, Ngidi 2/12, Duminy 1/27, Tahir 1/31, Pretorius 1/34, Rabada 1/40)

Australia beat Sri Lanka by 5 wickets, to win their ICC World Cup Warm-up match played at The Rose Bowl, Southampton, UK. Scores:

Sri Lanka – 239/8 in 50 Overs (Thirimanne 56, de Silva 43, B.K.G.Mendis 24,  B.M.A.J. Mendis 21,Zampa 2/39, Smith 1/9, Maxwell 1/14, Cummins 1/23, Starc 1/38, Lyon 1/48)

Australia – 241/5 in 44.5 Overs (Khawaja 89, Maxwell 36, Marsh 34, Stonis 32, Vandersay 2/51, de Silva 1/17, Pradeep 1/28, Siriwardana 1/28)

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Sri Lanka hope to prevail amid the chaos and confusion – BY TREVINE RODRIGO IN MELBOURNE

THE World Cup 2019 in England

SRI LANKA SQUAD FOR THE World Cup 2019 in England

Dimuth KarunaratneCaptain

Dimuth Karunaratne Captain

Age: 30 years 362 days. Opening batsman Bat: Left-hand bat Bowling: Right-arm medium

Dhananjaya de Silva

Dhananjaya de Silva

Age: 27 years 224 days.  Allrounder Batting: Right-hand bat Bowling: Right-arm off break.

Nuwan Pradeep

Nuwan Pradeep

Age: 32 years 181  Bowler. Batting: Right-hand bat. Bowling: Right-arm fast-medium

Avishka Fernando

Avishka Fernando

Age: 21 years 13 days. Opening batsman. Batting: Right-hand bat. Bowling: Right-arm medium-fast

Suranga Lakmal

Suranga Lakmal

Age: 32 years 39 days: Bowler. Batting: Right-hand bat. Bowling: Right-arm fast-medium

Lasith Malinga

Lasith Malinga

Age: 35 years 233 days: Bowler. Batting: Right-hand bat Bowling: Right-arm fast

Angelo Mathews

Angelo Mathews

Age: 31 years 320 days Allrounder. Batting: Right-hand bat. Bowling: Right-arm medium

Kusal Mendis-Wicketkeeper

Kusal Mendis-Wicketkeeper

Age: 24 years 75 days: Wicketkeeper batsman. Batting: Right-hand bat

Jeevan Mendis

Jeevan Mendis

Age: 36 years 93 days.  Allrounder. Batting: Left-hand bat. Bowling: Leg break

Kusal Perera. Wicketkeeper

Kusal Perera. Wicketkeeper

Age: 28 years 244 days Wicke-tkeeper batsman. Batting: Left-hand bat

Thisara Perera

Thisara Perera

Age: 30 years 15 days Allrounder. Batting: Left-hand bat. Bowling: Right-arm medium-fast

Milinda Siriwardana

Milinda Siriwardana

Age: 33 years 135 days: Allrounder. Batting: Left-hand bat. Bowling: Slow left-arm orthodox

Lahiru Thirimanne

Lahiru Thirimanne

Age: 29 years 252 days.  Top-order batsman. Batting: Left-hand bat. Bowling: Right-arm medium-fast

Isuru Udana

Isuru Udana

Age: 31 years 60 days.  Allrounder. Batting: Right-hand bat. Bowling: Left-arm medium-fast

Jeffrey Vandersay

Jeffrey Vandersay

Age: 29 years 72 days.  Bowler. Batting: Right-hand bat. Bowling: Leg break.

THE World Cup 2019 in England2

Sri Lanka hope to prevail amid the chaos and confusion

Dimuth Karunaratna will lead Sr Lanka.

Dimuth Karunaratna will lead Sr Lanka.

                                                     BY TREVINE RODRIGO IN MELBOURNE

In a country that dwells on chaos and confusion in many aspects, Sri Lanka’s beleaguered cricket selectors have finally put together a squad for the World Cup as heated debate on media and social platforms dissects the selected members.

The most significant point of conjecture is the selection of Test skipper Dimuth Karunaratna to lead the side overlooking at least three former limited overs skippers who the selectors perceive will divide the commitment from within.

All of this form a laughable scenario when a realistic view would suggest that all chosen are expected to pull on the national cap with pride and a commitment to making their country proud of their achievements. Not so according to many of this lot, some of who carry personal agendas attached to their selection.

Obliged to select on current form and experience, the Sri Lankan selectors find their hands tied as they sifted through the raw and experienced talent available to them and the squad put together is expected to gel under Karunaratna whose success with the Test team in South Africa gave credence for his selection despite him being stereotyped as a ‘Test cricketer’ with little exposure to the limited overs game and a poor average.

What Karunaranta brings apart from his astute leadership qualities is the stability and reinforcement in the batting which has recently not lived up to the modern methods used by the better teams in the world. This has resultantly seen the Lankans bowled out within the allotted overs on several occasions. He can hold up an end if required and his shot making can be as good as any if he needs to step it up.

There is a wide variety of stroke makers in the selected squad but the axing of players such as former skipper Dinesh Chandimal, justifiably for his underperformance, may yet deprive this fairly raw team of some experience in English conditions.

The return of seasoned campaigners such as former Skipper Angelo Matthews, Jeewan Mendis, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep and the injection of Milinda Siriwardene and recall of Jeffry Vandersay will make this team more competitive. The exclusion of Niroshan Dickwella and Oshada Fernando who were shining lights in New Zealand and South Africa did raise some eyebrows in a selection that is now done and dusted.

While the team is under the pump to put up a reasonable performance and not be deluded by their ability to win the event under such circumstances, it will be a heavier burden to bear on coach Chandika Hathurusinghe and his support staff whose future hinges on what he can deliver with the current squad and how well his mentoring plans are executed.

Sri Lanka go into this World Cup amid a similar scenario to 1996 when they won the event held in the sub-continent under Arjuna Ranatunge in Lahore, Pakistan. During unrest in the country at the time, devastating bomb blasts by Tamil Tigers in the capital Colombo accounted for many lives and resulted in Australia and West Indies withdrawing from their games handing the Lankans walk-overs.

The recent horrific events in Sri Lanka will probably help dispel any differences and cement a common bond within the team as they try to re-establish themselves as a force in the game without personal prejudices.

The current team selected appears to be weighted on all-rounders which is heartening after watching the lackluster performances of the bottom order in many of their recent games which contributed to their sorry showing over the past few years.

All eyes will be riveted on Sri Lanka due to recent events of a horrible Easter Sunday and it is hoped that a little ray of sunshine will descend on them and enhance their performances in England and Wales.

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Sri Lanka face uphill task against smarting Aussies – BY TREVINE RODRIGO IN MELBOURNE

 

Sri Lanka’s mission to the Southern hemisphere appears to be on a tragic course if the results in New Zealand are any indication.

 They left empty handed after a winless tour in all formats and life for them appears bleaker as they take on an Australian team smarting from a historic whitewash at home at the hands of the high riding Indians.

 

While Sri Lanka’s aspirations are more in hope of improvement due to the immaturity in the current squad, the Kiwis and Aussies are proud defenders at home and are uncompromising against all-comers in battle.

 The Sri Lankans feature in their first Pink ball Test at the Gabba in Brisbane on February 24 before travelling to Manuka Oval in Canberra for their final encounter which is incidentally the first Test in the Australian Capital.

 New Zealand showed the Islanders no mercy with crushing wins in the Tests and shorter formats of the game although Sri Lanka battled valiantly in the one-dayers despite losing all of them. Rain saved them from total demolition in the second Test after New Zealand went on a leather hunt against a hapless Sri Lanka attack which leaked more runs than any other team that has toured this part of the world before.

 dinesh_chandimalSri Lanka’s batting except for Angelo Matthews and opener Dimuth Karunaratne found little answer to New Zealand’s experienced pace attack led by Tim Southee and Trent Boult who tore the heart out of a weak-kneed effort by the rest and bad shot selection from experienced campaigners such as skipper Dinesh Chandimal who should realistically be finding a question mark over his selection for the rest of the tour. Compounding an already dire situation is the loss of the only shining light on the Kiwi leg of the tour, former skipper Angelo Matthews who once again succumbed to hamstring issues which has plagued him in the recent past. Matthews ended the New Zealand Tests as the highest run scorer being dismissed only once.


angelo_Mathews1
  There was also much speculation among the one-day squad who are reported to have indulged in some in-fighting causing a rift within. It is a definite recipe for disaster particularly when the combatants are among the most experienced in the squad. Lasith Malinga and Tissara Perera were the stand outs for Sri Lanka in a winless effort but they have got to find a way to train their focus on the opposition and not on themselves.

angelo_Mathews2 Two Tests against Australia will define who has benefited from the experience against New Zealand and for Chandika Hathurusinghe who made his mark as respected coach for New South Wales before taking Bangladesh to greater heights this leg of the tour will be an acid test of his ability in a role, he has yet to deliver on lofty expectations.
Chandika_Hathurusinghe

Hathurusinghe is currently under the pump to prove that Sri Lanka’s investment in him is justified as he faces heavy criticism on social media from knowledgeable critics who label him a financial disaster alongside his Australian counterpart Asanka Gurusinha who control the direction of the Sri Lankan attempt to resurrect the team.

 


asanka_gurusingheFrom the experience in New Zealand Sri Lanka will need to focus on their handling of the bouncer barrage they will face from the quicker Australian attack led by Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Jhye Richardson, the latter replacing injured Josh Hazlewood, who made life uncomfortable for the Indians before they were subjected to the return fire from India who also possess a potent attack led by Jasprit Burmah, Ishant Sharma and Mohamed Shami.

 By now the New Zealand experience would have given them some degree of conditioning to the bouncier and more lively tracks compared to those found on the Asian sub-continent and Sri Lankan fans in this part of the world are anticipating a backs-to-the-wall effort from the team as they desperately struggle to re-establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with.

 Their journey ahead is as daunting as they travel to South Africa to take on the Proteas who are also an uncompromising prospect. But the experience they gain on the Southern Hemisphere sojourn will be invaluable particularly for some of the younger members as they toughen up for their careers in the future.

  Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal (c), Dimuth Karunaratne, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Dhananjaya de Silva, Roshen Silva, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Kusal Perera, Dilruwan Perera, Lakshan Sandakan, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Lahiru Kumara, Dushmantha Chameera, Kasun Rajitha.

AustraliaTim Paine (c/wk), Jhye Richardson, Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Will Pucovski, Matt Renshaw, Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle 

 

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Wounded Lions seek solace in New Zealand and Australia – Trevine_RodrigoBY TREVINE RODRIGO IN MELBOURNE

 

 

 

 

SriLankaCricket-Gunatilleka

 Gunatilleka has much to prove.

Dimuth Karunaratne

Dimuth Karunaratne will be key to Sri Lanka’s revival.

 

Sri Lanka’s wounded Lions desperately seek some form of solace on their tour of New Zealand that has just begun after a humiliating home series drubbing by the Englishmen recently.

 

And if New Zealand looms large, the Lankans face the acid test of pitting themselves against Australia followed by similar hostilities in South Africa in the beginning of next year.

 

Two Tests against the New Zealanders followed by three one-dayers and a T20 game will set them up for the tougher encounters against the Australians , two Tests before they depart to the African leg which will test their worth.

 

Indifferent form, bad selection and a huge question mark hanging over coach Chandika Hathurusinghe who promised much and has delivered nearly nothing has the Island nation’s cricket in a head spin much akin to the political situation gripping the country as its leaders valiantly attempt to wade through the blundering process of ascertaining the true meaning of democracy and the cricketers the meaning of sportsmanship.

 

A reasonable showing in New Zealand away from political meddling may yet see an unlikely turnaround although that seems an uphill task against a home team that has been making giant strides at home and away unlike the Lankans who are currently on an all time low in the past few years.

 

Hathurusinghe left Bangladesh with the credentials to steer a Sri Lankan turnaround and the prospect of a home-grown coach for once taking them to the top of the world game. But the ploy appears to have backfired so far and the popular belief is that internal meddling or some form of interference in the Coaches direction has pushed the talented nation back further than they have anticipated.

 

With their confidence destroyed at home which the impregnable fortress of visiting teams was once, where to from here is the question on every Sri Lankan fans lips as they ponder what needs to be done to restore lost pride.

 

Obviously, it is in deciphering where the weaknesses lie and rectifying it. But their inconsistency with the bat and a mediocre bowling attack further compounded by atrocious fielding has them in a position where everything cricket must be addressed. Huge task for a new coach and a fragmented support team from reports coming here which is a clear recipe for a bad brew.

 

History suggests that a local coach will always struggle to come to terms with having his way in Sri Lanka due to overbearing influences from outside the coaching staff. Furthermore, there is questions lying around the roles of the batting and fielding coach who are said to have extreme views on some players whose natural style is being tampered with creating uncertainty and failure among genuine young talent.

 

Fielding is crucial to Sri Lanka’s revival considering the few opportunities their limited attack possess.

It is understood that Australian legend Steve Rixon has been roped in to fill this important void and though critics challenge the validity of his selection due to him being a former wicket keeper, he has proved to be invaluable in this role and should be given the opportunity to prove his worth.

 

Sri Lanka’s on going commitments in New Zealand and Australia will benefit from Rixon’s inclusion to the coaching staff due to his important input into local conditions.

 

What they need to establish in faster and bouncier conditions in this part of the world will be for the young breed to adapt quickly and find consistency or the tour may end in major embarrassment.

 

There is plenty of talent in the current Lankan squad but harnessing it and getting them to perform on a consistent basis is the key as the Australians are currently finding out against the world’s best Indian side.

 

Australia unlike Sri Lanka have natural fighting qualities and will give their all in any situation as was witnessed in the first Test in which they went down narrowly.

 

Much will depend on Skipper Dinesh Chandimal who has been impressive on previous tours to this part of the world with Angelo Matthews and they should find support from Dimuth Karunaratne, Niroshan Dickwella, Dhananjaya De Silva, Roshen De Silva and Dhanushka Gunatilleka who are showing clear signs of being the future generation.

 

 

 

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