At a popular cricket website, a keen follower of the Sri Lanka team posted an interesting comment, stating-
1st ODI – Well done Sri Lanka,
2nd ODI- Well done Chandi.
As It’s aparent, with the statement, he was trying to give a clear verdict on Sri Lanka’s youngest captain ever- Dinesh Chandimal- achievements, after the home side comfortably took 2-0 lead in ongoing bilateral series against South Africa.
Obiously, in the first match of the series, there was nothing significant Chandimal could do in his debut as a ODI captain. In that sort of game, where team’s no. 1 batsman scored his career best innings, and bowlers thrashed opposite team by 180 runs with more than 18 overs to spare, all a captain can do is to- collect a winning cheaque for his cricket board !
But in the second match, when needed, Chandimal stepped, stamped his authority with great effect, and steered his team to 17 runs victory via D/L method. After winning the toss and opted to bat, his team was struggling at 4 for 130, when he came to the crease in 29th over. Pitch was sluggish, same as Lahiru Thirimane at the other end, but he sticked, took singles and very ocasionaly boudaries to guided his team towards a respectable total. Eventually, when he got out in the 46th over, though, it was not an authority packed innings, but in the end, proved to be a match winning one, as he was judged men of the match for his contribution on a slow pitch.
And, it was not about his batting only, his captaincy during South Africa’s run chase was also prospered. His field placemens were aggresive, bowling changes were more innovative, as he opted for Lasith Malinga to open the bowling in consecutive matches. His choice for sping bowling from 9 to 19th over, was an classic example of a thinking captain, as he wanted to quickly get passed 20th over mark, from where on his team could be benifited, in the case of D/L methed came in to the consideration. And his tactics proved ‘master stroke’ in the end, as South Africa found themselves 17 runs short from victory, when rain eventually interrupted the match for the rest of the night.
Those tactics, and batting under pressure as well, shows that he has the abilty to be a long term captain. though he is just 23, he seems to read the game well, and knows how to marshells his troops. More importatntly for Sri Lanka, his batting also prospered as a captain, as 43 was his highest score in last 9 innings. Before that, he was struggling to pace his innings, and cope with the situations. But as a captain, he looked more assured and confident with his approach.
And, his success as a captain is a good news for SLC as well, as they are trying to groom two different captains for the future. It will gives them more flexibilty and options, to choose a best captain to lead the team in all three formats. Presently, what we can observe from here on, is that he seems to have a ‘good brain’ for the captaincy than Angelo Mathews. Mathews, in his captaincy so far, looked confused and jaded at times, while Chandimal looks crystel clear with his approach and energetic with his body language.
Above all, he seems a ‘lucky’ captain as well. He was one of the best captain in his school days, praised by many for his acchievements as a leader, and it seems that he is going to enjoy the same luck at international level as well. In his two outings as a captain so for, one of his star batsmen smashed his career best score, his premiere bowlers- Lasith Malinga and Rangana Herath- were able to took wicket in their first overs, and he won a crucial toss as well in the second match.
Though, after all those positives, his brief stay as a captain will be over, as mathews will take over the captaincy from him for the reminder of the series. But surely, the last two matches gave a confindence to his game, which he was badly missing. Also, with these two wins as a captain, he announced himself as one of the strong candidate to take over the captaincy for all three formats in future.