The game against Australia on May 9th was something we could talk about. As everyone knows Australia is a formidable unit in any form of the game, but what is really upsetting is the way we Sri Lankans reply to them.
It seems that Sri Lankans are doing number of mistakes day by day instead avoiding them. Some of these mistakes are short term planning mistakes while others are long term.
Let me take the game against Australia as an example;
Selection of the team
Batting line up is quite ok, but bowling is not. Murali went home with an injury; the replacement is Mirando over Dilhara. The problem of this selection is even Mirando is a good bowler but still Dilhara is better than him in this format of the game because Dilhara has a good slower ball and few other variations which Mirando didn’t have. Because of this reason SL had a choice of going into the match with Nuwan Kulasekara, Mirando (I’m not sure whether he arrived there in time) and Welagedara. I think since we have an all-rounder who can ball slow medium pace (Angelo Matthews) we need to select only one of the above bowlers. So SL selected Welagdara which I believe is not competitive as Nuwan Kulasekara. That is the first mistake SL done.
Australia is normally good with faster bowlers than slower ones with the bat. So Welageradra is not a problem for them even though he can generate some bounce on the pitch because Australians are used to those kinds of pitches and bowlers. Sri Lanka should’ve choose Nuwan Kulasekara who can trouble the Aussies with his intelligent bowling.
After Australia lost 5 wickets for 65 Sangakkara went to a defensive mode rather than attacking. Then Australia managed to sneak singles and build a good stage to launch.
Even though Sangakkara created some interesting filed placing he failed to put the correct person for those slots. Ajantha Mendis dropped a vital catch of White and probably cost the match. Mandis has this problem over a long period of time, not fielding well and Sangakkara should have put someone like Chandimal or Angelo Matthews in to regulating position like that.
Wicked showed that it has bounce but Australia had no trouble with that. Only spinners created the pressure such as Randiv, but in his bowling changes Sangakkara used Welagedara for his full quote which I believe went for 40+. As a experienced player and an outstanding batsman Sanga should know the ability and weaknesses of Aussies and should’ve hit the correct button by introducing another spinner in to the attack.
Dilshan and Sanath is more than capable of keeping the pressure on because of their vast experience on the field. I simply don’t understand why Sangakkara didn’t use them at all. The best way to attack Aussies is to take the pace off the ball. Their only batsman who can handles spin well is Ponting and he is out of the tournament.
We all know what he can do in the depth overs and we’ve seen it in IPL, but only if the skipper uses his ability in a correct manner. Sachin Tendulkar have done it but Sangakkara failed.
Malinga is a fast and accurate bowler and he is also edgy. That means he needs some intelligent field placing. Malinga can bowl yokers at will but need to put fineleg or Third man is deep. Otherwise one simple edge can cost a boundary or at least a slip in place. We saw Sangakkara not doing any of these and paying the price.
Now this is the most hit problem. Including Jayasuriya for playing 11 is a problem for Sanga. But if he included he must take everything out of him. We saw him bowling well in the first round specially against NZ. So Sanga should’ve used him for bowling.
The other problem is he is out of touch with the bat because of the slow nature of his movements and also in the field he is getting slow. We’ve seen him allowing the batsman to go for the second run in more than a couple of occasions.
Ajantha has few concerns, first his bowling; he must gain confidence. What I saw was mainly he is out of confidence. Yes batsman now read him more often than not, but that is not the only problem. Commentators prompting about his early mysterious bowling and having being resolved by the batsman now, But I think he is never a mysterious bowler, but puts his ball in the correct area and perfect length and line. It was dead straight and it was like “You miss I hit” sort of thing. But now he is all over the place in his line and length and his accuracy too. Also he is bit short too so batsman have time to see the ball. It’s all coach’s responsibility to help him get out of this situation.
His fielding is also a concern, having being in SL Army I’m pretty much amazed by the movements of him. Ever since he started playing SL, he is very slow to the ball and runs lazily and etc. Again coach needs to be aware and help him.
Mr. Trevor Bayliss; I’m not sure he is doing the correct thing over the period of 2 years. He is always out of plans if the plan A is went wrong. We saw this on the field, Sanga is running all over the place when his bowlers were smashed without a plan hence make more mistakes like dropping important catches that could cost the match.
Ajantha Mendis had fielding problems and still it’s not resolved. Also he isnot well with the ball and it’s coach’s duty to rearrange his variations and help solve his problems.
Sanath Jayasuriya in recent past got out by trying to play the pull shot and not timing it well. I think his old age doesn’t allow him to move quick enough to play the shot. Again it’s coach’s responsibility to guide him out of trouble by working with him and help him sorted out what shots can he play effectively and what he cannot play.
All in all Sri Lanka is heading to a big problem by not getting everything correct over a long period of time!