After the highs of the test series against pakistan sri lanka cricket came crashing back to their usual level of mediocrity in yesterdays 1st odi against Pakistan.With all due respect to test cricket and its supporters ODI cricket is what the general cricket fan measures their teams success . And the current SL players have been pathetic at ODI cricket since the last world cup. Following are a few ideas on how the team can turn things around.
DEVELOP A CLEAR BATTING STRATEGY
Watching the current team play it is hard to distinguish what is the batting strategy and philosophy adopted by SL. It’s clear that the previous selectors and now the new selectors are picking players first and then trying to develop a strategy around the players. Honestly it’s a valid approach that has worked previously with great success for SL. But recently, this method has not worked with the current group of players and it’s time to try something new. This is the perfect time to change the team can’t go any lower from where they are now( remember this a team that had to rely on west indies losing, to qualify for the world cup).
Looking at how the ODI landscape is right now ,most teams tend to go hard at the beginning .From overs 1-10. My question is do teams need to scarifies wickets to get the early momentum. With field restrictions as they are now, from 10-40, there is always going to be unprotected areas a settled batsmen can target for boundries.If you look at india who are the best team in ODI cricket their openers look to build a foundation in the first power play and tend start accelerating after the 15 over mark.I think sri lanka needs to look at a similar approach. Conserving wickets in the first power play look to get about 45 runs with only losing a maximum 1 wicket.
Sri lankas biggest stumbling block has been the second power play , this is where their lack of batting plan is firmly on show. The biggest worry in this block for sri lanka is rotation of strike there are too many dot balls, eventually the batsmen will go for a big shot without getting into any ball striking rhythm and get themselves out.
How many times have we seen sri lanka lose the plot in the middle overs .SL needs to find proper batsmen that can find gaps in the field and put spinners off their lengths. Personally I think the second power play is the most important part of the modern ODI cricket,this is the time where matches are won and lost.Sadly for SL they lose this period in most games and eventually lose the match.A possible solution for SL could be as mentioned above conserve wickets in overs 1-10,then slowly start accelerating from overs 15-30.And if you have wickets in hand try to get 70 runs from overs 30-40.To do this SL needs to find batsmen who are comfortable hitting the ball in the air during this period.
After that the last powerplay is very straight forward for a team like SL because the lack of power hitters. Usually they score about 80 runs in this period when they have wickets in hand and score less when they don’t have wickers in had .Therefore proving how important the second powerplay is for a team like Sri lanka.
THE IDEAL BATTING BREAK DOWN FOR SL WOULD BE:
POWER PLAY 1 : 45/1
POWER PLAY 2 :
OVERS 11-15 : 65/1 (20 RUNS)
OVERS 15-30 : 140/3 (75 RUNS)
OVERS 30-40 : 210/5 (70 RUNS)
POWER PLAY 3 : 290 (80 RUNS)
**These are ideal case scenarios that can change due of many variables.
SELCECT THE CORRECT PLAYERS AND KEEP PLAYING THEM
This is the biggest frustration for SL fans,the inability of selectors to pick the correct players who are suited for the ODI format. Look at the current ODI squad for the Pakistan tour three players stand out kapugedara,thirsara perera,s.prasanna.What is the logic behind these selections. t.perera is now firmly on the unfulfilled talent category.There is no form to backup his selection and there are questions about his level of commitment.
S.prasanna has been around for a long time and still hasn’t managed to adjusted his game to match international standards.kapugedara after the whole toss fiasco with a average just about 20 after 100 games still finds a place.While guys like wanindu hasaranga who already has a hatrick & sadeera samarawickrama who is in good form are being kept out.
Other poor batting selections include thirimanne (stricke rate 72) who comes into the team from no where ,there are no scores to back his inclusion in the team. One of his big problems is his inability to rotate strike has he fixed the problem ?that’s a resounding NO.
And we’ve got chandimal who did a great job in the tests but hasn’t done anything to warrant a place in the ODI team (strike rate 74) . And upul tharanga who also can’t rotate strike (strike rate 75) and doesn’t know where his off stump is after 200+ games.
Selectors blundered when they gave the captaincy to him. A man who is so slow sometimes he is invisible on the field.When you have these three guys in the top four you’ll be lucky to get to the 40 overs mark with 150 runs.
A another big problem for SL is their top 4 there seems to be a lot of chopping and changing between tharanga,gunathilaka,dickwella,k.mendis,chandimal and now thirimanne.As I said above this is indicative of not having a proper batting stratergy.Also players getting banned has not helped to have a settled top 4.
Also selectors and the team management continuously changing combinations game to game have also not helped.There have been glimpses of a successful combination with Dickwella,Gunathilake and mendis .But the problem is tharanga coming at 4 and stifles any sort of momentum the other three has built.Since tharanga is captain there is no way to drop him ! ,only thing you can to is drop gunathilaka and let tharanga open and play thirmanne/chandimal @ 4.
It is important that the new selectors be brave and pick a settled top four suited for modern ODI cricket.There isn’t a lot more games left before the next world cup .without a top four that is fully functioning SL will continue to struggle to even beat the likes of Zimbabwe and West indies .
So who are the ideal guys for the SL batting order .The criteria should be decent defensive technique, ability to rotate strike(especially against spinners) and strike rates above 80.As I mentioned above it’s important to win that second batting power play in modern ODI cricket. if you go into stats .The ideal players for the above mentioned game plan could be
D.Gunathilaka,Dhanajaya desilva,Anjelo Matthews,K.Mendis,N.dickwella,Asela gunarathne,Milinda Siriwardena,Sadeera samarawickrama.
** with the exception of Dhanajaya desilva all these batsmen have a strike rate above 80 and have shown they can be match winners for sri lanka.