“New Zealand picked proven performers like Kyle Mills and Grant Elliott in their World Cup squad despite them not playing much international cricket recently. Why? Because, they are proven international performers. The World Cup is not the time to experiment on fringe and inexperienced international players. This is where the Sri Lankan selectors messed up by leaving proven international performers like Tharanga, Maharoof ”, one of the NZ fans BRYCE CUNNINGHAM, commented in a Cricinfo posting recently. How true it is! Today, the team is in total disarray simply because of this. I have predicted this debacle three months ago, when they curtailed Tharanga’s stint to a solitary ODI in India!
History of Ongoing Massive Problem in Opening Spot:
Due to the adamant selection decisions continued despite constant failures, caused the instability in top order that we see today. Just after the current selectors took over in May 2013, they dropped Tharanga & we lost a global tournament ICC-CT in England. Since the 200+ partnership Tharanga & Mahela put up in Kingston – June 2013 (UT's inning in video, a month before his 18-month isolation), SL side had constantly faced the pressure of tumbling first wicket, inside 10 overs (mostly within 5). This resulted in heavy losses outside home comfort, against strong opponents as seen in recent humiliating defeats away, in India (5-0) & now in NZ (5-1 ?). SL just managed to scrape through in Eng (3-2), thanks to some superhero efforts from Sanga & Mathews. Leading to this predicted debacle, SL lost to strong SA & just managed tied series Vs NZ & weak BD, even with home advantage.
Without a proper batsmen at the top, who could phase his inning according to the demanding situation & play a long inning going beyond 25 overs, SL will never be able to succeed in materializing 300+ scores. What you need here is a solid support to another significant scorer, among the top four. This was proved yet again in the solitary success SL achieved Vs NZ, in this tour.
Why we need Upul Tharanga in the WC squad:
1) Experienced Player:
We need to add in form Tharanga to the squad immediately to strengthen the ever-brittle batting. Apart from the 3 experienced seniors, we hardly have any experienced performer to withstand the onslaught & deal with the demanding situations. Even Mathews is not doing well in this tour. Tharanga has a wealth of experience playing 176 ODIs including Two World Cups / ICC-CT & Asia Cup tournaments.
2) Productive Performer for the Big Occasions:
He is the only player in SL (probably in the World), who had scored FOUR Centuries in Global Tournaments; Two Centuries in World-Cup & Two Centuries in ICC Champions Trophy.
Tharanga & Dilshan have become the MOST SUCCESSFUL opening-pair EVER in long World Cup History, having posted TWO x 200+ stand and THREE x fifty-plus in just nine outings – accumulating 800 runs in nine innings at an AVERAGE of 100.00.
UT's WC history: 20 in – 693 runs – 38.50 Av – 75.49 SR with Two Double-hundred stands, Two 100-plus scores & Five 50-pluses!
3) Proven Player with Numerous Credentials:
Four of Tharanga’s 100-plus scores were in English, Caribbean & NZ conditions, dealing with seaming bouncy tracks! Also, he has involved in 3 x 200+ partnerships in those conditions.
Four of his 11 Man-of-the-Match awards were received, playing in Eng, WI, NZ & Au conditions including the MOM award he received in Australia Sydney Cricket Ground, for his unbeaten 86* in 2011. Also, he had scored 28 x 50 + scores, enduring the conditions in all those countries.
That is how he holds the 2nd best SL batting Average 35.59 (48 in- 1631 runs) in those conditions, just behind Sanga.
Tharanga had made THREE 200+ match-winning stands for the 1st wicket & had scored 5 x 100+ & 10 x 50+ during the most recent 2 years up to his AXING in July 2013.
4) Current Form:
Tharanga is in superb form, he put up another big score of 62 runs last week, with 11 x 4s & a Six with a Strike Rate of 137.77 in the 2nd match, followed by his 1st match score of 135 runs , with 17 x 4s & Two Sixes in current Premier League Tournament -2015.
Ongoing Premier League Tournament, 2014/15 :
WU Tharanga: 3 in – 264 r – 135 HS- 88.00 Av – 87.41 SR – 1 x 100 – 2 x 50 (as of Jan 24, 2015)
Premier Limited Overs Tournament, 2014/15 concluded in Dec 2014:
WU Tharanga: 5 in -255 r- 118* HS – 63.75 Av- 111.84 SR – 1x 100 – 2 x 50
Upul had scored 628 runs from his last 10 innings in all formats involving ODI/SL-A/Domestic First-Class/List-A matches, with 2 x 100+ & 5 x 50+ scores @ 69.88 Average!
If Malinga doesn't play, batters will have to take care of at least another 20-30 runs. Chasing or setting up 300-plus scores seem to be the norm in this WC. Needs a a proven performer to build big partnerships. There is no other solution. Immediately, recalling Tharanga to the squad is needed to strengthen the weak batting line-up!
The decision seems to be with our Chief Selector, who turns every pebble to find a solution to the instability he created, without putting back the original pebble that he took out to destabilize the pedestal, in July 2013.
“According to the MPA (Members’ Participating Agreement), players listed in the declared fifteen could be changed before February 6, 2015 – the date on which the ICC would take over the custody of the participants of the 2015 World Cup officially. Thereafter if any participating member needs to change players they would have to make an official request to the technical committee of the ICC and obtain their approval”.- Sunday Times
According to that news article, again the stumbling block seems to be the Lankan Selection Committee Chairman Jayasuriya, who is continuously sticking to his logic-defying decisions, despite failures.
Hope something will change pretty soon, before the last nail to the coffin is hammered out.!