By Hatem Rajabdeen
Sri Lanka enjoyed a successful T20 campaign taking them to the final at Lords on Sunday. However the fortunes reversed as they were beaten by Pakistan by 8 Wickets. Lanka’s route to the final was mainly due to their tight and skilful bowling and some individual brilliance with the bat primarily of Tillekeratne Dilshan.
The Batting in the middle order struggled most times unable to finish up the brilliant batting at the top of the order. My General view to it is down to poor selections in the first place. There are going to be lots of un answered questions. Why did we persist with Chamara Silva and Jehan Mubarak even with their continuous failures in the tournament. The fact is they did get opportunities to play themselves in but took no responsibility.
Except for Mubarak’s innings in the first match he has been a disappointment. His a cricketer with loads of talent but he just hasnt made his opportunities count and its time these chances are given to others. Why was Angelo Mathews coming out of superb domestic season not batting up the order. He never got a long bat out and when he did boy did he come up with what we were looking for in the entire tournament the acceleration at the end overs.
The only argument from the selectors point for the selection of Silva and Mubarak would be the fact that they finished in the top 5 batting averages of the local T20 tournament. Their selection over youngsters Upul Tharanga and Chamara Kapugedera has not been justified. Kapugedera has become a virtual scapegoat of the selectors having batted almost everywhere in our batting line-up. This doesn’t do much to the confidence of a 22 year old who is definitely the future of country’s cricket.
Over the past 12 months or so he did perform at Number 4 when he got his opportunities scoring almost his one day half centuries at that position.
With Indika De Saram in the squad the selectors could have introduced him against the Irish and New Zealand Teams in the Super 8 giving him an opportunity to perform sadly this was not done and we persisted with the failures and there was going to be a time somewhere late in the tournament that Sri Lanka would have to pay for the mistake and for us sadly it was the final. At 36 it is very unlikely he will make it to Sri Lankan Squad for a major tournament again.Kumar Sangakkara has been brilliant with his captaincy and easily the most aggressive and attacking captain our country has ever seen.
His bowling changes have always been spot on and has always been in control of the game except for the final where his batsman were the culprits in not setting a decent target for the bowlers to bowl at. The hard work was done and probably 50% of the game won when he won the toss and played to our strength of defending scores by batting first.
His Captaincy has won him a lot of praise over the tournament and the only error if at all he did make was giving Isuru Udana the ball in that 18th over in the final. It was definitely the over Pakistan were going to take a risk to get on top of the rate. The ideal scenario would have been to bowl Malinga and Murali in the 18th and 19th and if they had bowled two tight overs who knows what could have happened in the final over . As the 8 wickets in hand would mean much when you have 6 balls left.
The Future of our cricket is good with talented youngsters coming out into the national set up. Opportunities have to be given in order to obtain performances from these lads. If Sri Lanka can persist with the Silvas and Mubaraks at every opportunity then the same should be to the other up coming youngsters in our country the likes of Kapugedera, Taranga, Mathews and Udawatte to name a few.
Angelo Mathews has been a revelation for Sri Lanka and has a good and prospective future providing his used properly. Isuru Udana is another bowler with promise but has to work with the bowling coaches to work on his variations and speed, you cannot build an international career just bowling slow balls its going to make you pay big like it did on sunday.
Sri Lanka has to work now towards 2011 something we should have done before. We have got just the man for it in Kumar Sangakkara. Critics are sure to come and go but his job should be to see that Sri Lanka throws in a challenge to win that World Cup with the biggest advantage any team can have and that in playing at home.
We need to think towards a future and build a team of youth and experience.
Identify roles players are needed to do and make sure they work towards achieving them.
Farvez Maharoof has been plagued by injuries year in year out which does not help his cause. We need to invest in fitness and health of our young cricketers to bring them the standards of fitness seen internationally in order to perform consistently. Sanath Jayasuriya has been a long standing servant to Sri Lankan cricket he needs
his role defined in this set up he seems to have lost his way around with Dilshan taking up a similar role at the top of the order.Just before i finish off would like to highlight the efforts of our bowlers in the concluded T20.
Lasith Malinga has gone on to become probably the best fast bowler we have seen in our country for a long time .He doesnt look like a bowler whose not had any cricket for a year. He continued his IPL form into the World T20 successfully and other than for Angelo Mathews he did not get the support from the other fast bowlers. Ajantha Mendis and Muralitharan were at their best and strangled all the opponents they played against barring the final making acceleration against them in the middle merely impossible.
Ajantha Mathews has bowled well within his limitations and for a player who hasn’t bowled much over the last 12 months due injury he has done more than what was expected from him by his captain. He clearly was filling in for a role that may have been played by Veteran Chaminda Vaas who was left out.
The Talent is out there its upto the administration to exploit it to the benefit of Sri Lanka Cricket. Lets just hope its done sooner than later which gives us a chance at the 2011 World Cup at home.