Are Sri Lankans the new chokers in cricket?

The World Cup 2007 final, the ICC Twenty20 championship final, and now the Compaq Cup 2009 final, have all gone to the opposition. Has Sri Lanka become the new chokers in international cricket?

Here is a team that played out of their skins, winning fans over in the Caribbean and England, with their exhilarating brand of cricket. But they look as weak as Bangladesh when it comes to the crunch matches. It is almost always the bowlers who don’t deliver on the big day. Malinga being a chief culprit. He just fails to rock the opposition in any of the crunch matches. It’s like the nerves get the better of him.

When you concede over 300 bowling first in a final, your bowlers have let you down. That’s precisely what happened to the Lankans today. Their bowlers let them down badly.

Mendis gave away 70 runs in his ten overs. Malinga gave away a shocking 81 runs in his ten. And Thushara another 71 in his ten. Three bowlers that the Sri Lankans relied upon heavily to perform could not deliver. At no point in the Indian innings did it appear that these bowlers were targeted. They just bowled inconsistently.

India was no better, their bowling and fielding looked to crumble under a Sri Lankan counter attack. But as long as Mahela allows the opposition to create inroads into our top order, with his loose, irresponsible batting, Our batting line up is stretched with the fall of the very first wicket.

It is almost inevitable that taking an early wicket will lead to two, because Sri Lanka’s number three is almost always guaranteed to fail. Here is Mahela’s last 20 knocks for Sri Lanka (he has batted at number 3 and 4):

1  v India Colombo (RPS) 14 Sep 2009 ODI # 2889
17  v India Colombo (RPS) 12 Sep 2009 ODI # 2887
0  v New Zealand Colombo (RPS) 8 Sep 2009 ODI # 2884
31 v Pakistan Colombo (RPS) 9 Aug 2009 ODI # 2870
19  v Pakistan Colombo (RPS) 7 Aug 2009 ODI # 2868
123 v Pakistan Dambulla 3 Aug 2009 ODI # 2867
12 v Pakistan Dambulla 1 Aug 2009 ODI # 2866
33 v Pakistan Dambulla 30 Jul 2009 ODI # 2864
1 v India Colombo (RPS) 8 Feb 2009 ODI # 2818
28  v India Colombo (RPS) 5 Feb 2009 ODI # 2815
30  v India Colombo (RPS) 3 Feb 2009 ODI # 2813
52 v India Colombo (RPS) 31 Jan 2009 ODI # 2810
11 v India Dambulla 28 Jan 2009 ODI # 2806
18 v Pakistan Lahore 24 Jan 2009 ODI # 2803
24 v Pakistan Karachi 21 Jan 2009 ODI # 2800
1 v Pakistan Karachi 20 Jan 2009 ODI # 2798
0 v Bangladesh Dhaka (SBNS) 16 Jan 2009 ODI # 2794
28  v Bangladesh Dhaka (SBNS) 14 Jan 2009 ODI # 2793
0  v Zimbabwe Dhaka (SBNS) 12 Jan 2009 ODI # 2791
0 v Zimbabwe Harare 30 Nov 2008 ODI # 2785

It’s pretty obvious that Mahela’s occupation of the number 3 or 4 spot in the line up is not on merit. He has flown under the radar because the attention is always on Jayasuriya’s failures. Sri Lanka will be best suited to play Samaraweera at number 3, and send Mahela back to domestic cricket to prove his worth as a limited overs player. There are plenty of batsman who deserve to be given an extended run in the ODI side. Mahela has had a free ride for over 2 years.

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