On the eve of the third one day international at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo, Sri Lanka face off in a virtual quarter final situation against India to keep this tournament alive.
Looking back on the last match, you got the sense that piece by piece, Sri Lanka were finally starting to find their feet as a team, built on the foundation of Mahela Jayawardena’s captaincy.. Mahela’s half century in the last game gave signs of what we might expect to see as he slowly pushes his confidence and mind back into form. Its a good sign for Sri Lanka, as when he is in form with the bat, his captaincy shoots to the next level.
I think one of our major flaws apart from the dismal batting performances, is our bowling. From what we have seen so far, Murali and Mendis are far from their peak. This is largely due to the fact that our opening bowlers have not done well to constrain the likes of Sewag and Gambir. This is true, you take any team, no matter what the situation is, if the openers give good starts and continue to bat, EVEN when you have guys like Warne, Pollock, Mcgrath, Flintoff, I Sharma to come and bowl at you, they will still pay well, as these guys are already set. So by the time we have the combination of Murali and Mendis bowling, these guys are so well set that they have the ability to play within themselves to avoid screwing up against these two spin wizards.
Nuwan Kulesekera to me still isn’t the match winning material that he claims to be. He is not a threat to any top opposition in world cricket due to the lack of pace and variability in his bowling armor. As a result, he has not been able to handle the strong Indian batting line up. Thushara, is just inexperienced, and neither of the two are opening bowler material. We have better bowlers!, why not use them?.
Compare Kulesekera and Thushara to Zaheer and Ishant Sharma. Do they really stand on the same level of skill? now imagine Vaas and Malinga, or Dilhara and Malinga or even Prasad. How do you feel about our bowling attack now? Ashantha De Mel should be given a swift kick up his ass. If the whole of Sri Lanka can see this, I just don’t know why our head selector cant!!.
From what history shows, Sri Lanka has always handled pressure situations a lot better than the Indians, especially when it came to big games. This match is a big game no matter how you look at it. India would want to win this series and maintain their consistent record, and then shuffle players for the next couple of games. For Sri Lanka, its do or die. The point where Dhoni would be aware of complacency would be pressure enough on him and his team as they go on to prove a point. This may be Sri Lanka’s only window of opportunity of a real fight back into this series. But as history has shown, only Bangladesh and South Africa have managed to come back from 2 behind (This is after 84 series of 5 ODI match Series)
YET piece by piece, the Lankan armor is falling into place. Many people may think that Sri Lanka is on a steady decline in world cricket, but I believe that its not over till the fat lady sings, and last time I checked, she has not even warmed up to it. Mahela and his boys will fight back. The toss will play a major role in determining a certain aspect of the final outcome, but remember this people, Sri Lanka are still playing fairly well with only 45% of their main guns firing. If by chance the remaining guns fire at full steam, watch out India, Oh yeah!, watch out, you might have just woken the Tiny giants from the Indian ocean.
Good luck Sri Lanka, make us proud on the eve of our Independence.