Kapugedera is back
Chamara Kapugedera’s two blistering not out innings made him the highest run scorer of the series collecting 79 runs off 41 balls. Coming at no. 7 in both the matches when Sri Lanka needed quick runs he built two crucial partnerships with Milinda Siriwardene, both in quick time.
Identified as a potential power hitter at the age of 18 and get selecting to the national team soon after, his potential never unleashed consistently during his first tenure of 92 matches in Sri Lankan ODI colors. This time he was called back to the national team after 2012 owing to some solid performances in the domestic T20 competitions and with years of Cricket behind him, he looks the man more capable of delivering things which were initially expected from him on consistent basis.
No. 7 is a little late for him given the way he played in the two innings and he should possibly bat at no.5 or 6, ideally at 6 which will be to a greater effect as he takes some time to settle in and he seems to have the waiting game and the finishing game with him.
Milinda is a good investment
Throughout the ODI series and the T20I series Milinda Siriwardene was the most consistent batsman. He was impressive in making quick runs with an attacking stroke play in the late middle order and electric fielding and occasional leg spin. Considering this was his debut series he can be considered the find of the series. As the highest run scorer in the domestic competitions this season selectors couldn’t have picked him at a better time than this.
He was especially impressive in his stroke play in where he seems to be natural at it along with his temperament. To his credit he seems not easily get carried away but play the ball to its merit. His six hitting ability and timing is excellent and his strokes are not ugly swipes, hoicks or slog but proper Cricket shots. He should be given more opportunities and freedom to perform the way he is performing now.
He adds some fresh substance in to Sri Lankan middle order where there were no clinical power hitters when they needed them the most. He and Kapugedera could be good additions to ODI squads given their form.
Sri Lankan selectors had installed five new faces, 3 batsmen and 2 bowlers, to the T20I squad and all of them were given chances during the 2 match series. Apart from batting and bowling what was more impressive to behold was the raise of fielding standards. Youngsters brought a new energy to the team.
It was clearly visible during the second T20I where they were able to pull of 2 marginal run outs. Altogether ground fielding was superb and guys like Kapugedera, Milinda, Vandersay, Dhananjaya and Shehan were very impressive on the field. Dilshan too showcased customary display of excellent ground fielding and what’s more Malinga too was seeing diving. Catches were taken, run outs were taken and boundaries were saved. It was almost a near perfect fielding script, especially by the youngsters.
Bowling is erring
Pakistan were 83-3 after 11.3 overs in the first T20I batting first and went on to score 175-5 after 20 overs. Last 8.3 overs had cost 92 runs for 2 wickets at 10.82 runs per over and Sri Lanka lost the match by 29 runs.
In the second T20I chasing 173 to win Pakistan were 40-5 after 7.2 overs, 107-7 after 14.1 overs and 174-9 after 19.2 overs winning the match. At 107-7 Pakistan had lost all their proper batsmen and rest were bowlers and still Sri Lankan bowling attack including Malinga, conceded 67 runs in 5.1 overs at 12.97 runs per over to Pakistan’s No.8, 9, 10 and 11.
Overall Sri Lankan batsmen and fielders had done well in the series but it was the bowling that they had faltered. After losing the first match and batsmen put up a competitive total in the second match and having taken half the side for 40 Sri Lanka still lost the match to the lower order and tailanders of Pakistan. It’s a shame. Bowling full tosses and full length balls never helped their course and absence of regular slow balls except from Thisara Perera provided Anwar Ali to unleash some brutal slogs.
There were two new faces added as bowlers, Binura and Vandersay and both showcased that they have the potential to compete in the big stage. One being a left arm fast bowler and the other being a leg spinner, they will add a new dimension to the Sri Lankan bowling attack. Binura needs some work to be done though. As a 6’ 7’’ boy he needs to put his body behind and add more pace in to his deliveries which are now clocked at early 120s. As young as 20 years of age he has ample time to develop himself to be a left arm medium pace bowler clocking at 135+ kmph. Vandersay on the other hand needs some International level exposure. He showed potential with some unorthodoxy with a front of the hand delivery which comes back to the right handers as a wrong ‘un.
At the moment they lack a bowling plan or bowling temperament or erring in execution of the bowling plan or skillful individuals.
Malinga’s form is a major concern
Lasith Malinga is considered one of the best T20I bowlers in the world and one of the best death bowlers in ODIs at the moment. But for the last 12 to 18 months he doesn’t seem to be the man he used to be. His form has been declined and the surgery he had undergone hasn’t helped either.
Penetration in his bowling seems to be gone and so are his deadly toe crushers and nasty bouncers and canny variations and the most worrisome is the decline of the pace. He used to be bowling 140-150 range in last year’s Asia Cup and England tour too, but now the range has declined to 130-135 or 140 at most. He has not been able to dry the runs or take wickets regularly of late in both formats and specially being the premier attacking bowler and captain of the T20I side he needs to lead from the front.
During the 2 match T20I series he had conceded 86 runs in 8 overs at 10.75 runs per over and had picked up only 2 wickets. He was the most expensive bowler of the series and it certainly did not help the course of the team.
It seems that the things are not quite right for him at the moment either fitness or bowling rhythm or sore knees. So it will be a good thing for him and the team that he takes some time off and work himself and come back in full form.