Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Curse in disguise - 2

Curse in disguise - Cont.

At the conclusion of the ODI and T20 series against South Africa, Sri Lanka will look back and think they have done rather well. They beat the Proteas 4-1 in the ODI series, and stumbled in the T20 series but somehow managed to hold on to their Number 1 ranking by the end.

Sangakkara, Mahela and Dilshan were in sublime form, so much so that towards the end of the series, it looked as if the three seniors were just playing for amusement, much like how you would play FIFA on easy mode to try out your trick moves. If Sangakkara wasn't dropped for the last T20, I would'nt have been surprised if he came in to bat with a golf stick,  one hand tied to his back, with blind folds on. The ease at which the three seniors played were emphasized by the fact that all three tried and connected the reverse scoop at least once in the series.

The bowling really started to click too. Sri Lanka played two spinners in almost, if not every game. Herath, Sachithra, and Mendis all delivered the goods, while Sachi proved that he should be a permanent fixture on the one day side with exceptional bowling performances every time he was included. The pace had discipline. And depth. When Malinga had an off day, Thisara would come to the rescue. Or Lakmal. Or Kula. Sri Lanka had options. Good, solid options. Apart from maybe Jeewan Mendis, who looked like he didn't know what he was doing in the middle.

But Jeewan's approach of never knowing what to do in the middle is a trait not only he has developed in the past 15 months or so. It is a trend that spreads throughout the Sri Lankan junior batsmen. A trend they have come to embrace and worship to a point that I am convinced that Kusal Perera has a tattoo that says "Inconsistency is everything" on his left forearm. Chandimal and Thirimanne have shown us glimpses of the superior batsmen they could be, but the memory of a match winning knock from either is as distant as those photographs of "The Bridge by the River Kwai" in Kithulgala. A long forgotten memory, of a beautiful start to a tale that ends up in blowing everything to little pieces. Upul Tharanga sort of tried to differ, but he has backed up towards the same wall he fell over, 3 years ago.

They come. They impress.  Is that it? Patience is key.

If you need someone to take responsibility, let them
be the only ones responsible.
Sri Lanka's success in the series owed to the massive workload done by Sanga, Mahela and Dilshan. In the games they failed, Sri Lanka failed too. And soon will come a day when the big three would start failing consistently, for the candle lights brightest when it's about to go out. And when it does, Sri Lanka cricket will go to a dark corner, with no one left to re-ignite the fire.

But it must be remembered that the one who breaks the lamp is the one who tries to light it. Therefore, youth must be persisted with. With different combinations and better strategies. Starting with resting Sanga, Mahela, Dilshan, Malinga and Herath for the series in Zimbabwe. Sri Lanka might lose all the games, but they will know that this is the future. Take away the saving grace of the juniors, and let them save them selves. And hopefully, along with it, the future of Sri Lankan Cricket.

Patience is key.

Cusre in Disguise - I

Another great innings by Sangakkara. Another century by Dilshan in Pallekele. Just at the right time you would think? Or is it? For me, from here onwards, each and every good knock Sanga, Mahela and Dilshan scores happen to be a not so good thing for Sri Lanka Cricket. It was one hell of a majestic knock by Sanga in the first ODI that made all the cricket fans forget about the recent ups and downs in the field for the country. This seems to be the tale for Sri Lanka Cricket. Eventhough they are doing badly, an innings in the type of Sanga's 169 comes up and spoils the party. What I mean by spoiling the party is that it's better off if Sri Lanka went much deeper into the hole, so that there is one way around. The more the senior players score, the more Sri Lanka will be reliant on them, and you can't change. The less the opportunities the young guns will get. And the cycle will keep on going forever, and everyone will keep on complaining about the younger brigade.
A Blessing or a Curse?
However, you can't complain when you see innings of that calibre can you?  Yet, I still believe, there is enough room for the team allow more chances for the youngsters. For me, this depends upon a crucial decision, of enabling MJ to open the innings. Yes, Tharanga's position will be at stake, if that's the case, but it will clearly enable the likes of Thirimanne and Chandimal to bat at no.4 and 5, which is much better. We have already seen Thiri grabbing the opportunity whenever he was given a go at the top. The 68 runs he scored in the final ODI demonstrated his capabilities. He just have to fine tune the rotation of the strike, which in my mind he will, and we have got our future No.3 batsman. True enough, if Tharanga keeps on performing he should be given a go, but I honestly doubt how long term will Tharanga's return will be, especially thinking of 2015WC, to be held in Australia and New Zealand. However, I personally thought that Angelo Perera could have come ahead on Sanga on the final ODI. Angelo has had only one chance, and on a pitch where most of the Sri Lankan batsman struggled, he also succumbed to the pressure. Yet, the final ODI could have been used as the ideal platform to enable the youngster some time in the middle. Watching him play in the warm up match, he was really in good shape, and I though deserved a better opportunity.

The bowling and the fielding looked sharp. You tend to be so, when you have 300+ most of the time on the board. I believe that, Shaminda Eranga, despite all the critics he has earned himself, will be the next bowling sensation of Sri Lanka, and become the mainstay for a long time. True that he's quite weak at the death, but with experience and time, he will prove to be a match winner in my opinion. The early wickets of Duminy and ABD clearly provided the edge for Sri Lanka in the matches.. Both of them were in supreme touch but just couldn't fire in the series, eventhough Duminy scored a 97. The loss of wickets in a sequence clearly halted the chases.

The real struggle for the batsmen was against the accuracy of Rangana Herath. This also raise anther important question of why aren't Sri Lanka playing the second or third spinner more often. Maybe the conditions, but still Sri Lanka's strength is spin bowling, and I would say you should back it, even on a green surface. You go with what you are best at. Sachithra Senanayake grabbed the opportunity provided with both hands, and clearly bamboozled the likes of Amla, and the young De Kock.

All in all, it was nice to see Sri Lanka win in an emphatic manner like that. However, as mentioned earlier, the real problems are yet to surface for Sri Lanka, as the 3rd ODI demonstrated. Out go Sanga, Dilshan and Mahela early, Sri Lanka seem to be struggling. Therefore it could easily be seen that eventhough a lot of good things actually happened in the series, a lot of not so good things are hiding underneath the surface, which will surface soon or later. It is up for the youngsters to take their opportunity, just like Thirimanna did, and dig Sri Lanka out of the hole.