By Osanda Gunaratna
Sri Lanka need to win matches early in the CB Series, if they are hoping to make it to the final and from there onwards to look forward, if not they will be losers again.Their prime objective should be to reach the Commonwealth Bank Tri Series Final.
Consistency is key and SL needs to be consistently performing well all-round (batting, bowling especially top fielding) will be required. SL needs to be-well gelled as a team and do not throw away opportunities when it present itself.
It is vital that Sri Lanka create chances in the field by building pressure on the opposition by bowling well and fielding should be world-class. Enthusiasm and energy should be always there with the team with everyone in the XI eager to make an impact.
As Sri Lanka is fully-revamped after the 4 horrible series losses (both in ODI & tests) last year, a more positive change for the team is to be expected with the experienced Sri Lanka’s highest run-getter in both tests & ODIs Mahela Jayawardene taking on captaincy to rebuild the fallen team to rise with a new coach in the form of Graham Ford (Former South African coach) and also a new manager with a new-looked selection committee.
As Sri Lanka aims to conquer Down Under yet again, they need to remember and build on their 2010 year-end tour to Australia which brought them their 1st ever series win down under winning the T20I and ODI Series.
As there are only few positives for Sri Lanka, it is a good thing for them to build on their two consecutive successful 300+ run chases against South Africa in the ODIs, which few ended few weeks ago.
The bowling which will be led by Lasith Malinga needs to be bowling great lines and lengths and will need to mix their pace in order to fox the batsmen to make a mistake.
For Sri Lanka it has been a problem for quite a while that Lasith Malinga is the key wicket taker as other were just helping him out but for Sri Lankan bowling is to successfully knockout the batsmen in the strong Australian & Indian teams, there will be needed the other bowlers especially the fast-bowlers to rise to the occasion.
As for as the team combinations goes it is very important to find a balanced-yet match winning team to play against each of the teams. As Sri Lanka are playing two different teams from actually two different continents one which favours pace(Australia) and one which favours spin (India), it is necessary to develop two bowling combinations against the two teams.
For India it would be good option to play three or even four fast bowlers with Angelo Mathews in the XI (one spinner) and against Australia it would be a good idea to play two spinners and two or three seamers.
As most of the Australian pitches favour fast bowling, it is a crucial factor that Sri Lankan pace unit makes the most of it to turnaround the match in to their hands. Two new balls will be crucial for team selection.
Last but not least Sri Lanka’s batting need to be well adjusted to pace of the pitch, the bounce being created and most importantly build on big partnerships with each other to either set a score or at chasing a score measurably.
Technique wise Sri Lanka needs to bring the full-face of the bat and a word of caution cross batted shots will be their down fall, so the batsmen needs to play straight as possible, running between the wickets should be quick with the ability to convert ones into twos, twos into threes and threes into fours if the opportunity is there.
Clear calling of “Yes, No, Wait” to take the runs should be practiced, along with the proper technique to ground the bat to the crease.
Sensible batting is required more than anything & converting 30s, 40s into big hundreds will be the way to go and also taking calculated risks. The power play should be maximizing in a way runs are being scored without any unnecessary risks.Openers Dilshan and Tharanga needs to play the long innings with Sanga at the top order to build a platform for Sri Lanka to launch with Chandimal, Mahela,Mathews and the rest.
Well if they can do this along with teamwork, unity and also being brave and clever enough to outplay the opposition the Commonwealth Trophy is thiers to the taking.