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A chance at redemption

2008 has not been a particularly good year for Sri Lankan cricket. It was a year riddled with inconsistent performances, lack of quality test cricket and a cricket board in turmoil.The test team had limited opportunities with Sri Lanka only playing 5 games. Although managing to win 3 of those, a win was usually followed by a loss. A bad loss.

Issues in the middle order continued. For once, King Sanga was ordinary. Only Captain Mahela and young Malinda Warnapura Impressed with the bat.

Sri Lanka didn’t fare any better when they switched the white flannels for their colored kit. Another embarrassing home loss to India, an away loss in the West Indies and a near humiliation in Zimbabwe followed. Sure the score line read 5-0, but it would be an overstatement to suggest Sri Lanka were ever in control of the Zimbabweans.

So then a tour to Bangladesh would seem like a good opportunity to wrap the year up on a good note.

More will be expected of young openers Vandort and Warnapura, Vandort has been abysmal with 146 runs at 16 this year. Another bad performance will not go down well with the Selectors. Sangakkara also needs to find the same form that made him the number one batsmen in the world over the last season.

It is extremely difficult to be a fan of Jayawardene when the Sri Lankan fast bowlers and Murali score more runs than him. The captains form is a huge worry for the Sri Lankans. He has been under pressure in the media back home regarding the whole IPL and England tour saga, so maybe his heads not where it should be.

This can not be an excuse though and failure against Bangladesh, who on paper should be tougher than Zimbabwe, will only leave him as an open target.

Signs are good though. Mahela is going to take this series ‘very seriously’. Good. (As opposed to taking it mildly seriously in Zimbabwe then.)

However, Sri Lankas seriousness is immediately put into question when Tilakaretne Dilshan wins a test recall for doing absolutely nothing, while Thilian Kandamby misses out yet again. Tharanga Paranavithana is also overlooked. So the middle order still looks shaky. With only Thilan Samaraweera in any kind of form this year, Bangladesh might be trickier than Mahela expects.

On the flipside, the year has been totally dominated by the Sri Lankan bowlers. Mendis is the name on everyones lips and the man no batsmen wants to face.

So his recent injury could not have come at a worse time. Personally I am hoping young Sachithra Sennayake from SSC gets a call up. The off spinner had a brilliant season last year as he was the only bowler to pick up more than 50 wickets in the season.

Of course, Rangana Herath, proverbial understudy to all spinners in Sri Lanka got the call up after cracking performances in the A team

Chaminda Vass has been retained in the test team. A fair call from the selectors as Vass has clearly saved his best form for the longer version of the game this year with contrasting averages of 46 (ODI) and 26 (Tests). Add to this the emergence of Nuwan Kulesekara who does a similar job to Vass, the pace and angle of Thilan Thushara and Dammika Prasad, Vass’s ODI career is probably over now anyway.

Quite a bit will be expected from the fast bowling department, who are experiencing a remarkable renaissance at the moment. With Vass there to lead the way again, they are in good hands.

Then there is Murali. He aint half bad either.

Sri Lanka have never lost a test match against Bangladesh, either at home or away.

The best way to end a disappointing year is to not blot that record.

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