Sri Lankans have finally found the Sri Lankan brand of cricket. No one gave them a chance against South Africa who dominated the 1st Test. They ended the winless streak in great fashion by recording one of the greatest Test wins in Sri Lankan history. This victory has certainly brought a breath of fresh air in times of hardship.
Who brought this breath of fresh air? Yes it was a team effort all right, but Dinesh Chandimal was special on his debut. He is somewhat different from the traditional SL cricketer. He brings energy and excitement to this sport. His style of batting unsettles opposition bowlers and his energy behind the stumps annoys opposition batsmen. Some might call him stupid, but his fearless approach has already made an impact. Some people deemed him as a "sh*t wicketkeeper" even before giving him a chance. His performance in this match was easily the best performance by a Sri Lankan wicketkeeper in last 3 years. It’s not a secret that Prasanna Jayawardene hasn’t been himself since the home Test series against India in 2008. Chandimal should be given a decent run in Test cricket hoping that he will improve his wicketkeeping to a certain level in 2-3 years like Kumar Sangakkara did.
Thilan "The Bullet" Samaraweera proved to be the catalyst. He took Sri Lanka to a competitive 1st innings total (something that Sri Lanka have been struggling to do) while slapping those selectors in the process. Well, retarded selections have always been a part of Sri Lankan cricket, but the time has come to change the selection policy. Yes, young players should be given opportunities, but not over performing seniors. How about putting more pressure on Dilshan and Mahela who have been getting free rides? Does Paranavitana have what it takes to be a decent Test opener? Why can’t they consider Sachithra Senanayake even when he’s been cleared? Letting him play 3 Test matches wouldn’t hurt anyone for fuck’s sake!
Kumar Sangakkara must be the most committed Sri Lankan cricketer. The way he worked hard to change his technique was a good lesson to young cricketers out there and to a certain senior cricketer who has been writing useless blogs in past few weeks. Talent, class and elegance are useless if they can’t be used to perform when it matters. Sangakkara may not be the most talented, but he has become a quality Test batsman through sheer hard work and dogged determination.
Most people had doubts about Sri Lanka’s bowling attack for obvious reasons. The fact that they won this match without their 3 top bowlers (Muralidharan, Vaas and Malinga) makes this win such a significant win in Sri Lankan history. Sri Lanka had not won a single Test match in SA even with the great Muttiah Muralidharan. Although average, these bowlers have shown that they can make a difference if the batsmen can put on a decent total. They may not have bowlers who can win matches single-handedly, but still they can put pressure on the opposition on responsive tracks if they work as a team. Chanaka Welegedara seems to be getting better and Dilhara Fernando can bowl a spell here and there. Not many thought Herath would have an impact in SA, and then he went on to trigger South African collapses.
Tillakaratne Dilshan’s performances in England while Sangakkara and Mahela were failing looked heroic. Sadly, he’s been a pale shadow of himself ever since. Some can use the cliché "You are only as good as your team" to talk about his captaincy, but some of the team selections and tactics have been clearly questionable. Sacrificing Samaraweera to go down the order ended up being a disaster. However, his 47 (69) in the first innings helped Sri Lanka to get off to a decent start. Sri Lanka always need that start because Paranavithana gives control to bowlers. His captaincy was good in patches during the 2nd Test where he applied pressure on batsmen by setting attacking fields. Sri Lanka need this man to fire with bat in near future more than anything else.
Just let bygones be bygones and continue to play positive cricket. There is no shame in losing to a better team after trying your best. Hopefully Sri Lanka will compete by playing the Sri Lankan brand of cricket in years to come.