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The selection incongruity that could derail SL’s journey to 2015 World Cup pinnacle

According to selectors, we have a massive ongoing problem finding a suitable opening partner for Dilshan. Our selectors seem to be suffering with some kind of short-term Amnesia. Obviously, they must be having a hard time to recall anything beyond 2013. It seems, they have completely gone blank to the extent, that they cannot remember what happened or who opened in 2012 or 2011, including last WC.

As far as SL selectors are concerned, everything had started freshly since 2013 for SL ODI openers. Dilly is the fixed asset & Kusal became the partially fixed asset for them. Upul & Dimuth were the dispensable pawns used from time to time to fill the dents, consistently left behind by Kusal, until ending up in sinking to the ultimate abyss in November 2014.

Now they have started to explore Dimuth as an opener for WC (at least on paper). Highest contributor (UT) of last series decider was dropped from the Test squad to do this exploration in NZ.   

Stats missed by SL selectors due to Memory Loss:

Dimuth’s  Test Stats      :  25 in – 701 r – 85 HS – 30.47 Av – 4 x 50  
ODIs                             :  6 in –  84 r – 60 HS – 16.80 Av – 1 x 50
UT’s Test Stats              : 34 in  –  1019 r – 165 HS – 30.87 Av – 1 x 100 –   5 x 50
ODIs                              : 168 in – 5339 r – 174* HS -33.57 AV – 13 x100 – 28 x 50
 
4 Tests played after 7 year lay-off in Aug 2014 Vs SA & PK 
UT has scored 306 runs – 92 HS – 38.25 Av ( 92 Vs PK, 83 Vs SA, 45 Vs PK, 30 Vs SA).
 
Now our selectors talk about the importance of Long innings, played by openers:

Our Opener should be able to stem the inning for the side with long innings, for all batters to bloom & achieve the goal as a team! Dilly is capable of doing it, but lately he was failing to thrive in that regard. Appearing in all ODIs, his last 100+ was 28 OdIs ago in 2013, before the one he scored recently in Nov 2014. Upul Tharanga had put up FIVE 200+ partnerships during the most recent 4 Year period with 7 Century-plus individual scores, before his progress was cut short, in 2013 July.

Our batters have not done well against Australia except Sangakkara. When you compare openers against formidable Australia, playing double the number of ODIs Vs Australia than UT, Dilshan had achieved almost same number of big scores at a little lesser Average than UT (even Sanga had managed a solitary Ton & MJ had never scored a Ton, playing much more innings) :

Dilshan    – 40 In – 933 runs -106 HS – 25.91 Av – 1  x 100+ – 4 x 50+
Tharanga -20 In – 493 runs – 111 HS – 25.94 Av-  1 x 100+ – 3 x 50+

Since 2009, these are the SL’s biggest partnerships that assured wins: –

As you can see, the Common Factor here is UT in all those partnerships.

In 2009:  UT with MJ – 202 r
In 2010:  UT  with MJ- 215 r
In 2011:  UT  with Dil- 282 r (World Cup)
In 2011: UT  with Dil – 215 r  (World Cup)
In 2013: UT  with MJ- 215 r

He had scored 2808 runs with 7 X 100+  &  19 X 50+ scores during that period at Av 38.35 -S/R 76.89.

Apart from this, Tharanga and Dilshan have registered six century stands for the first wicket in ODIs, joining two other Sri Lankan pairs – Marvan Atapattu and Sanath Jayasuriya (eight) and Romesh Kaluwitharana and Sanath Jayasuriya (six)

Some WORLD Records for Big Scores/ Long Inning Partnerships

Upul Tharanga holds the World Record for Long partnerships in ODI cricket (7 X 200+ partnerships). Only Ponting had equaled it at 35 yrs, playing more than double the number of Odis (375 Odis) COMPARED to UT’s achievement.

The World Ranking in CENTURIONS of last decade:

Most ODI Hundreds in a career (175 innings or less) – World Rankings:

1) V Kohli (India)2008-2014  – 138 in  – 21×100  – 33×50           
2) AB de Villiers  2005-2014  – 169 in – 18×100  – 42×50            
3) HM Amla (SA)2008-2014  –  100 in – 17 x 100 – 25×50          
4) UT Tharanga 2005-2014   –  168 in – 13 x 100-  28×50            

MOST SUCCESSFUL opening-pair EVER recorded in long World Cup History:

Sri Lanka's  Openers Upul Tharanga and Tillakaratne Dilshan set Three Word Cup Record as they struck, TWO double Century ( 282 + 231*) partnerships during the 2011 WC.!

1) 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   

2) The first-ever double century stand for any wicket in a WC.

3) TWO Double Century stands for the first wicket by the same openers at a World Cup are these unique records.

WU Tharanga, TM Dilshan- 282  – 1st wicket – SL v Zim – Pallekele –          10 Mar 2011       
WU Tharanga, TM Dilshan -231*- 1st wicket- SL v England – Colombo –     26 Mar 2011

2011 WC  Overall Batting Rankings:

 1) TM Dilshan (SL) :     9 In – 1 n/o- 500 r –  Av 62.50 
 5) WU Tharanga (SL) : 9 in  -2 n/o- 395 r  – Av 56.42

A Point to Ponder:

The following is all-time Best performers in SL batting Vs England (ranked according to Av – considered above250 r). THE GUY WHO LEADS the ranking, overlooked for 3 series Vs Eng or in Eng, since 2013 to make room for Kusal.

Tharanga:    11 in – 578 r   -120 HS – Av 57.80 – SR 78.00 – 3 x 100 – 2 x50
Sanga:         40 in – 1508 r – 134*HS- Av 44.35 – SR 75.81 – 3 x 100 – 11 x50
Mathews:     17 in – 529 r  –   62 HS  – Av 40.69 – SR 85.04 –      –       3 x50     
Mahela J:     43 in -1562 r –  144 HS –  Av 40.05 – SR 83.75 – 5 x100 – 8 x50    
Jayasuriya :  34 in – 1508 r- 152 HS – Av 37.34 – SR 101.35 -4 x100 – 3 x50
Dilshan:        30 in  – 922 r – 108* HS- Av 34.14 –  SR 82.39  – 2 x100 – 5 x50
Marvan:        19 in  – 520 r – 132*HS – Av 30.58 – SR 61.53  – 1 x100 – 3 x50

They have no valid excuse whatsoever to justify the strange omission of UT from the 7 odis played recently Vs Eng. Despite having a 29 y opener with such an extraordinary track record to solve the sweltering crisis they are having since 2013, again they preferred to extend Kusal's unlimited passage, to fail again. Now, SLC is even trying to put an assertive player like UT, with a constant failure like Kusal at the same level & shamelessly say they both were tried & failed in the recent past. How can you compare Kusal’s failure record of 35+ Odis given at a trot, with UT’s, when he was prevented from playing more than 5 odis (in total) during the entire period of past 18 months (1 or 2 at a time, months apart)?

Glaring Reality :

Kusal’s career:    39 in   –  839 runs – 23.30 Av –  1 x 100 –   4 x 50 (none outside subcontinent)
UT’s career:      168 in –  5339 runs – 33.57 Av – 13 x 100 – 28 x 50   

After playing almost 1/4 of UT's career innings, see where Kusal stands:

In his pitiful career, Kusal had managed =  839 runs from 39 innings.
While, UT had managed 5339/168 x 39 = 1239 runs from 39 innings.
The Difference 1239 runs – 839 runs     =   400 runs

A MASSIVE 400 runs difference in productivity……
This estimates how costly it had been for SL during the past 2 years!

Performance Comparison Vs England:

Kusal's  Vs Eng: 8 Odis – 143 runs –   17.87 Av – 76.88 S/R – 1 x 50
UT's      Vs Eng: 11 Odis – 578 runs – 57.80 Av – 78.00 S/R-   3 x 100 + 2 x 50
 
If the selectors are doing a proper job, then there shouldn’t be ANY QUESTION about the ideal Opener to partner Dilly in Au/NZ conditions (really, there shouldn't have been any question even 18 months ago) :

The all-time SL batting record for players, who played in ALL HOSTING COUNTRIES, LIMITED to Aus/Engl/NZ/SA /WI in tournaments /series involving Host countries & any ICC FUll-Member Opponents involved in those tournaments (excluding BD & Zimb) :

1) Sangakkara: 121 ing  – 4060 R  – 37.59 Av
2) Tharanga       48 ing  – 1631 R  – 35.45 Av
3) Atapattu:       79 ing –  2468 R  – 33.80 Av
4) Ranathunga   78 ing  – 2257 R  – 32.71 Av
5) Dilshan          84 ing  – 2378 R  – 32.57 Av
6) Mahela         140 ing  – 4053 R – 31.66 Av
7) Jayasuriya    132 ing  – 3915 R  – 30.11 Av

Who needs more evidence to prove a player’s potential & value? UT was denied any real chance since 2013, giving him just an ODI or 2 at a time spreading over 18 months.

WHY are they doing this?

Selecting the best available resources to lift the overall potential to max, is the only key to success in a WC. Judging from the way the things are happening, it is highly unlikely that they will consider the most appropriate choice to fill an essential need, even at this stage.  As long as these selectors are blind to the obvious reality & immune to answer for the downfalls triggered due to their maladroitness, WC pinnacle is too far away for SL to reach.!

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