He is one of the finest young batsmen in world cricket, but now cracks have started to appear in his batting.
It took barely one season for young dinesh chandimal, to fall from the top bracket of world’s best young batsman’s list. In February-march this year, he was a star in making. Toured Australia, he was in devastating form against the home side and Indians, scored more than four hundred runs in that CB series. Four months later, after just completing an odi series against India recently, he is looking a jaded player. Suddenly, critics have started to found plenty of shortcomings in his technique, and most importantly, his temperament has also come under scanner.
His scores, against India, are 13, 6, 0, 28 and 8. At a time, when team management was describing him as a ‘next big thing ‘in sri lanka cricket, he came with lackluster performance. One could say that up and down in form is a normal thing in sports. Some people could say that even his team mate kumar sangakkara was struggling for runs, before Pakistan series, even India’s most talented young batsman rohit sharma, was a disaster in just concluded series. So, what’s the big deal, if chandimal failed in a series?
Well, in chandimal case, it’s not just about- not scoring runs. It’s about his technique, and temperament, to some extent. When he plays outside subcontinent, he looks a solid player. His records in Australia, South Africa and England suggest it too. He scored his first odi hundred in Zimbabwe, second in England. In test cricket, he scored two half century against South Africa in their hoe soil. In Australia, during CB series, he was equally good to another young batsman, from India, virat kohli. Former greats, like Tony Greg, ian chepal and sanjay manjrekar, had no doubts to call him as a ‘future of sri lanka batting’.
But, whenever, he plays in sub continent pitches, he looks an ordinary batsman. He struggles against pace bowlers, as well as against spinners. So, what’s the reason behind it? waqar younus, former Pakistani fast bowler, identified during the pak-sri lanka series, that chandimal has the tendency to break down under pressure, especially in spin friendly, slow and slugish pitches in sub continent. His stats also show it. In sub continent, his best score is just 65, which he scored recently against Pakistan in third test match. Against Pakistan, he was helpless against saeed ajmal and shahid afridi. Against India, he had problems against R Ashwin and Irfan pathan.
Another weakness in chandimal’s game seems that he not comfortable at no. 4 position. Though, Captain mahela has described him a ‘long term no. 4 ‘, but it seems that he struggles to cope with the pressure of middle overs. Like mahela, chandimal too is a attacking batsman. But, as sri lanka management had forced mahela to bat in middle order, its look like, that same thing is happening with chandimal. In today’s twenty-20 era, where natural strikers of the ball are precious, sri lanka is wasting chandimal’s talent by playing him as a middle order batsman.
Yet, situation is not too alarming, as he is still a 22 year old boy. But surely, it’s a big worry for sri lankan team, as all describing him the next legend from the island. May be, its just matter of time, when he will start to make runs in sub continent too.
But surley, its time for sri lanka cricket to think seriously about chandimal’s role in the team. They have already wasted the talent of chamara kapugedera, by playing him as a lower order batsman. With the kind of talent chandimal have, they cant do same with him.