Sri Lanka is left with more questions than answers after a disappointing semi-final loss to England in the ICC World Twenty20 that sent them packing. Compared to their fantastic run last year that fell just short, but proved them to be the best, most consistent side, they leave the Caribbean with more questions rather than answers.
Tillakaratne Dilshan, who carried the batting in the tournament last year, struggled and his form woes from the IPL continued. Sanath Jayasuriya, moved back to opener, was simply awful and his failures pegged back the batting. Ajantha Mendis is no longer the mystery spinner and needs to evolve the way batsmen have when they face him.
The contributions of these players, especially Dilshan and Mendis, fuelled Sri Lanka last year during the ICC World Twenty20. The batting and even the bowling, despite losing Murali to injury, were more erratic because Dilshan and Mendis couldn’t perform (just like the final against Pakistan last year).
There were bright spots as well. Mahela Jayawardena was fantastic, but heavily relied upon, and in two of the three matches he didn’t score much (versus Australia, India and England) the batting took a nosedive. During the latter two, Angelo Mathews rescued the innings and he continues to look promising with the bat and the ball. Fellow youngster Chamara Kapugedera was another key to victory against India with his match winning innings and both of them can anchor the middle order for years to come if they continue to perform well. Lasith Malinga bowled well overall using his variations of deliveries.
The game of musical chairs at the top of the order will continue as long as Sanath Jayasuriya remains in the side and continues to fail. Ajantha Mendis needs to improve now that everyone else has adapted so they can play him with ease, and a second pace bowler has to emerge and cement themselves in the side alongside Malinga. If Murali cannot last until the next World Cup, second spinner is another issue. Sri Lanka can build on what they have learned here as the picture gets clearer for who will suit up come the 2011 ODI World Cup. But there are still plenty of questions.