Being a warm-up match yesterday’s game against South Africa meant little result wise. But it was an important match nonetheless because the guys needed to get a feel of match conditions ahead of the ICC World Twenty20 opener against New Zealand on Friday.
When both teams arrived at the Kensington Oval in Barbados they were greeted with overcast conditions and a juicy pitch aided by moisture from rain in the days before. Which then makes you wonder why Kumar Sangakkara chose to bat having won the toss.
The theory that his batsmen needed first use of the pitch to get some match practise leaves you wondering if he felt his bowlers didn’t deserve the opportunity to bowl first on such a track, and also makes you wonder if he keeps overestimating the ability of his batsmen.
Having said that, it wasn’t all the pitch’s doing either in Barbados. In Dilshan’s case he was unlucky to be out first ball. He creamed one off his pads in the air to fine-leg, but it went straight into the hands of Charl Langeveldt. Just as the pitch played no part in Dilshan’s dismissal, Sangakkara was foxed by a slower ball.
To the South African bowler’s credit they used the conditions well making runs hard to come by. Jayawardene who has struggled to cope with similar conditions before, managed to make his nine runs at a strike rate of 75.00. For the new man Chandimal it was all a little too overwhelming; he didn’t trouble the scorers much.
Had it not been for a sensational counter attack by Chamara Kapugedera, when more prominent batsmen before him left the Sri Lankan batting in shambles, the scorecard would have been pretty embarrassing. Sri Lanka were 42/5 before Kapugedera sent the Proteas on a leather hunt, for a change.
Kapugedera showed the likes of Dilshan how to construct an innings with 61 off 35 balls. Dilshan’s recent successes revolved around his new found understanding of rotating the strike and constructing his innings. He now appears to have gone back to his daredevil ways which seems evident by his choice of strokes very early on in the piece.
Once he got his eye in, Kapugedera took on the South African bowlers and carted them out of the park five times; Jayasuriya gave him able support at the other end in his new role as a middle order player. Together the pair added 52 valuable runs to test a South African batting line up which was missing Kallis, Duminy and Albie Morkel.
The pair came together at 42/5 and partnership was broken at 94/6. Once Jayasuriya departed Kapugedera and Jayasinghe’s 31 run partnership which came in just 2.3 overs saw Sri Lanka move past the 100 run mark to something more respectable.
Even though the pitch in Barbados exhibited extra bounce and lateral movement, the Sri Lankans will rest easy knowing that it is not a sign of things to come.
More importantly, Kapugedera who played for Chennai in IPL 2008 but could not secure a contract this season, appears to have finally matured into a hard hitting middle order batsman. Ever since the selectors chose to send struggling middle order batsman up the order replacing more devastating openers with good workers of the ball, Sri Lanka has been in need of a middle order batsman who can help boost the scoring rate when the top four fail.
Photo by U D Heenpella.