Monday, 27 January 2014

Negativity, Selection and Success

Bangladesh v Sri Lanka. Day One. 1st Test. Dhaka

Sri Lanka fought from a losing position to draw the 1st test against Pakistan. Then they fought for a win from where Pakistan could have drawn the match, in the second. On the third, Sri Lanka didn't fight. Not just on the very last session. Not just on the very last day. From day one, Sri Lanka didn't fight. Sri Lanka slowly and safely batted themselves in to series winning, test match drawing position in the first innings. Bowled safely and tidily to gain a formidable lead, and batted not for runs, not to win, but for time in the second innings. And once all the safety locks were in place, in the blink of an eye, Sri Lanka lost the test. And had to share a series that they had deserved to win for fourteen days of cricket and a session. Cricket gods don't usually favour those who play like a bunch of softies.

On the back of that heart breaking loss, Sri Lanka have arrived in Bangladesh. They face similar foes on similar conditions. They've been forced to make one change, adding Kithruwan Vithanage to the middle order replacing Prasanna Jayawardane who returned to the island for personal reasons. The unforced change is welcome for the young batsman, who was dropped from the test squad for reasons unimaginable after a good debut series. But such is the complexity of Sri Lanka's selection criteria, for a formula that selects a front line spinner for making 95 runs without bowling a single over in the fourth innings of a test match is a formula that defies the brain capacity of the rational thinking cricket enthusiast. Sachithra Senanayake must wonder why he worked hard on his bowling when all he had to do was get more batting practice to become a better bowler. He even gets dropped from the squad. 

Sachithra will have to score more first class hundreds
if he is to play more tests as a front line spinner
Amidst the meta-quantum-string-theory-and-lots-of-other-big-words selection criteria, Sri Lanka have started the test well. The Eranga-Suranga combination has once again weaved it's web around the top order on a flat wicket, but once again having taken out the top 6 for 150, Sri Lanka leaked a further 82 runs to get the tail out. Although, with a century to boot, Sohag Gazi was hardly the tail, after winning the toss, electing to field and sending back the better batters, Sri Lanka should be disappointed that Bangladesh still made 230, knowing that they will have to bat here on the fourth innings.

But Sri Lanka's ability to win this game would be dictated by how they bat in their first innings. And so far the two young openers have made a solid start. Obviously Sri Lanka will want to build on it, and obviously they'll want to get a big lead and bat Bangladesh out of the match. Oh the rest of it is too boring to write!

How easy it is to picture the right way to do something. If only words could win games.

Catch you again before the next day's play.


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