During the 1st ODI against Pakistan it was evident that the big three of our batting line-up Mahela, Dilshan and Sanga were struggling considerably, their decision making was muddled against a good bowling on a good pitch.
If we look closely it is evident that mental fatigue has finally set in for a team that has been playing continuous international cricket since May 2011 to the current series June 2012. No other international team has played continuous cricket like Sri Lanka. It is almost embarrassing, the work load that our national cricketers have to go through. The problem has been compounded because of pay issues, changes in coaching staff, constant travel, inconsistent selections and we have not played matches against Zimbabwe, West indies or other weak teams.
And our players decided to play in the IPL 2012 than take the 2 months to rest and recharge their batteries, but I do not hold it against them for playing in the IPL – if our cricket board was a professional outfit they might have resisted the lure of the IPL.
It is clear that the team needs a break but due to the current financial situation of the SLC I don’t see this happening. Recently Kevin Pietersen retired from ODI and T20 cricket citing the heavy workload that England have to go through although his decision might have been influenced by the freedom and monitory benefits of being a freelance cricketer. But it is important to note the underlying cause was he wasn’t able keep up with the continuous demands of international cricket.
I think it’s time Sri lanka cricket decided to have a separate T20 team without the Big Three Sanga,Mahela and Dilshan. We need to give our youngsters the exposure in international cricket the perfect answer will be T20 where their skills will be tested under huge pressure against the best in the world. Because Dilshan,Sanga and Mahela are mainstays in our 50 over side it is difficult to find a place for a young player and I don’t see the logic of Sanga,Mahela and Dilshan playing international T20 cricket they have nothing to prove to anyone and it might even give them the rest they require ,and improve their performance in the other formats. We might go through a losing phase in T20 cricket but I’m sure it will benefitial to sri lanka cricket in the long run. We do not want be like the west indies who have a talented group of players with no idea how to close out the opposition and win matches.
The other issue is the inconsistent selection of the batting line up it is hard to comprehend lahiru Thrimanne and Upul Tharana batting at no 5 and no 7 two batsmen with similar techniques and mentality.Upul tharanga has played almost all of his cricket opening the batting he has 12 centauries opening the batting, and he has a good understanding with Dilshan.Tharanga is mostly a one sided player mainly plays on the offside he relies on timing rather than brute strength. Coming down the order his ability to hit over the infield will be negated, and because he has a limited range of shots it’s easy to tie him down in the middle overs.If sri lanka play Tharanga he must open the batting otherwise it will be waste of his talents. It was strange to see thirimanne coming at no7 against Pakistan although the match situation suited his style of play there want be many matches like that.Thirimanne is a carbon copy of Tharanga with the same weaknesses evident by his efforts to muscle the ball in the last few over’s ,obviously another top order player.
Currently Sri lanka has only two bowlers who are sure to be picked Malinga and Kulasekara interesting to note neither of them play test cricket and mostly stay fit for a long time.It’s puzzling to see there is no Maharoof in the squad I thought he had a good tour of Australia he would have been useful against Pakistan with his ability move the ball and his variations. Where is Shaminda Eranga who I thought had a good debut against the aussies last year .These guys deserve a place over Dilhara Fernando who has been tried, tested and failed. In the spin department the current favorite is Sacithra Senanayake who has great figures in domestic cricket ,if he decides to flight the ball rather that darting the ball at the leg stump he might get more success.Sri lanka have gone through a lot of spinners in the recent past but still I believe that suraj randiv is the best option in ODI’s going forward he should have been picked over Rangana herath who is a solid performer but is he the future of our spin bowling. Currently the batting seems to be going through the motions they need to pick themselves up if we are going to beat Pakistan.
My First X1 for PAK would be: Tharanga,Dilshan,Mahela,Chandimal,Sanga,Matthews,J.Mendis,Thisara,Kula,Senanayake,Mal