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Sri Lanka’s first match since Lahore – Sangakkara’s first match as captain

Monday the 8th of June 2009, a day which means so much to so many. This is Sri Lanka’s first game since Taliban terrorist attacked their convoy in Pakistan. Mahela Jayawardena stepped down from captaincy and Kumar Sangakkara was appointed the new skipper of Sri Lanka. Muttiah Muralitharan, the first Tamil vice captain in Sri Lankan history, will also take the field in tomorrow’s game.

The Australians, who suffered an embarrassing defeat at the hands of West Indies, are now faced with a do-or-die match. A loss to Sri Lanka would mean that they will be out of the 2009 ICC Twenty20 World Cup in round one of the tournament. Nothing can hurt the Aussie ego than going out before Bangladesh or Netherlands.

The pressure is on Sangakkara’s men to prove that they are not just all talk. Memories of recent encounters between the two teams reminds us that the Australian bowling attack has literally owned the Lankan batting line up.

If tomorrow is going to be different, Jayasuriya and Dilshan must fire. If Sri Lanka looses a wicket in the first 6 overs, it’s almost inevitable the Lankans will find themselves at 60/6.

The Sri Lankan bowlers always look overawed when playing the Australians. But that was when Hayden and Gilchrist were at the top. Since their retirement the batting doesn’t look all that strong against the likes of Malinga. Early breakthroughs and good fielding is key. Sri Lanka must take every chance that comes their way. If you see a dropped chance turn the telly off its not worth watching the rest.

Will Malinga fire?
Will Malinga fire for the Lankans?

Sri Lankans must bring their A-Game tomorrow or it will set the trend for an early exit for them in the tournament.

It is time Mahela and Kumar delivered. The fans patience is dwindling. If you think Mahela’s 41 against Bangladesh was decent, that expectation well suits a team ranked at number 8 in the ODI rankings, which is where Sri Lanka are.

Not too long ago Sri Lanka was a team that set the trend, it appears now, that they are stuck in a trend which they set over 15 years ago.

No longer is it sufficient to have hard hitting openers to exploit the power plays. Sri Lanka has lacked a hard hitting middle order batsman who can boost the run rate in the last 20 overs of an ODI. It does not have a batsman who can boost the run rate in the last 10 of a Twenty20 match.

In contrast other teams have hard hitters lined up all the way down their batting order.

Mahela Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakkara may not be ideal batsman for the T20 game. They would struggle to find themselves selected for a world T20 team. Sanath Jayasuriya, even at 39, will make any international T20 line up, even if he is out of form.

Everyone knows form is only temporary. The ability to hit the ball long and hard is permanent.

Sangakkara and Jayawardena are not big hitters of the ball. They are good timers of the ball. There is a difference. Some batsman don’t need to get their eye in. They use brute force. An example would be Yusuf Pathan, again another name that would make it into any T20 line up.

At this point it’s clear that players like Chamara Silva, Indika De Seram, Mahela Jayawardena, and Kumar Sangakkara are not ideal T20 players.

Sangakkara under pressure
Kumar Sangakkara will be under pressure from ball one, as new captain.

Sri Lanka Cricket had the option of making some drastic changes after the last ODI series against India, which Sri Lanka lost on home soil.

Losses at home, by the way, are becoming common place now for a team which was once considered invincible at home. Sri Lanka held an unbeaten record for years.

They lost that under Mahela’s captaincy, Kumar was the vice captain of that loosing team.

Sri Lanka Cricket did not make any drastic changes. Up and coming young cricketers who outdid their seniors in the provincial T20 tournament were not rewarded.


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In order for Sri Lanka to come out trumps with the cards they have been dealt, their batsman need to re-evaluate their own abilities. Barring Sangakkara’s dismissal, all the others, including Jayawardena, De Seram, and Silva were playing cricket that was not normal to them.

Mahela should not be Reverse Sweeping Botha when the side is 33/5. Indika De Seram should not be trying to loft a ball pitched short of a good length – off the pace of Kallis – over mid on. He cant.

Silva? Why would you be dabbing one to 3rd man when you have a good cut shot?

None of them are playing to their true ability. They are not going to be hitting too many sixes. They need to concentrate on the basics and run well and establish a partnership.

If I’m being too harsh, the heck with it. I think fans from the island nation are sick of seeing Sri Lanka shriveling up and fading away. They were once the trend setters of the island way..now they are just folding up- series after series-  and just fading away.

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