Ashantha de Mel


Although we won the first match with BD easily, I would not think that the selectors played the best team required to address the WC mistakes SL made and move forward to improve the ODI team strength and ICC Ranking. There was no proper team balance on the team composition although our chief selector Asantha has talked very highly in his discussions on the team balance being the main criteria for picking 11 players in the team. If proper, inform players are not included for the next two matches, SL will be definitely  weakened further in their bowling and batting strengths which may even cost them the rubber and further demotion in the ICC Ranking. We need to have quick answers from our selectors, explaining how they are going to tackle three crucial weaknesses in our ODI team while noting that we will be without our main strike bowler Malinga  for the next two matches. If BD do not loose early wickets (most probably this may happen in the next two matches) they will exploit the weaknesses in our team and win the rubber.I think our selectors have not learnt any lesson from the negative outcome of our WC performances. During the WC, some middle order specialist batsmen (who batted at no 4 and 6) had  average performances and all four lower order batting and bowling all rounders namely Milinda, Jeewan, Thisara and Udana failed miserably in their batting. Two of the bowling allrounders who were designated as power hitters (Thisara & Udana) never performed as expected, therefore in the last 10 overs we never achieved the required higher RRs.  As a result of our middle & lower order batsmen’s failures SL were unable to post competitive team totals in every match that they lost in the WC.Have our lower order batsmen done anything better in the first match played with BD, when compared with their poor WC performances? I don’t think so.In the first match, at the end of 20 overs, the forcast score was 350+ but due to slow batting & negative tactics of the lower order batsmen, once again SL  managed to end up with a below par score of only 314 runs which was 30 to 40 runs short I believe.If not for Kusal’s century and Malinga’s out burst at the start of BD inning, we would have definitely lost the match to BD. We did not have a Plan B, for an unexpected collapse of the top order whereas we were still depending on the failed batsmen in the WC namely Kusal Mendis (no 4), Dhananjaya (no 6) and Thisara (no 7) to score quick runs during the middle and death overs which did not materialize as expected. Inspite of having inform, new players in the squad announced for BD matches, it’s a mystery why none of them were considered for the final XI, therefore once again our same  middle order batsmen failed to deliver. Selectors and our captain should realize that our motive is not only to help the failed individuals to find form but also to select a team which can satisfactorily address all WC mistakes we made and improve on our ODI team strength & ICC Ranking. Some of the noticeable blunders our selectors made this time were;

  • 1. Wrong team selection
  • 2. Failed middle order batsmen were not replaced by inform players who have performed in recent matches
  • 3. Continuously failing Thisara in the last 13 matches played during the last 6 months and having an awful batting average of 9.2 runs was played again
  • 4. Well settled opening pair of Dimuth and Kusal was disturbed unnecessarily which resulted in the downfall of Avishka
  • 5. For the first time in SL ODI history only five bowlers were played thereby taking a risk of not having any bowler to bowl few overs of the 5th bowler quota.
  • 6. For the first time in SL ODI history a main spin bowler was not included in the team.
  • Continuous mistake of sending Thisara to bat at no 7 (who has the worst record for a power hitter during the last 6 month period). Beside he is a Bowling All rounder (who has a batting av of below 20.0 and should never bat above no 8 position). In our batting line up, the first 7 positions should be occupied only by a specialist batsman or a batting all rounder. (and not by a bowling allrounder)

As an action plan, the following team (from the squad of 15) can be proposed where all mistakes done during the recent WC are properly addressed. THE BEST TEAM PROPOSED FOR THE NEXT TWO MATCHESAccording to Cricinfo Statguru statistical ODI records (average) during the last six month period for established players and overall List A records for new players as noted below are considered when selecting the following best team.

  • 1.  Dimuth (31 Yrs), Anchor Role (av 41.9, SR 78%, R50+ 3.0, R4-39%) (ODI last 6m)
  • 2.  Kusal P(28 yrs)Power Hitter no 1 (av 42.5, SR 105%, R50+ 2.5, R4-50%, R6-3%, R4+R6-53%)(ODI last 6 m)    
  • 3.  Avishka (21 yrs)Power Hitter no 2(av 35.5, SR 100%; R50+ 5.0, R4-45%, R6-14%, R4+R6- 59%)(ODI last 6m)
  • 4.  Shehan Jayasuriya (27 yrs), Anchor Role, Batting AR, Off Spin (av 36.3, SR 87%, R50+ 3.8%, R6-10%, R4-38%LA
  • 2nd option Kusal M (24 yrs) (av 32.4, SR 78%, R50+ 4.7, R4-27%, R6-11%)(ODI last 6m)
  • 5.  Mathews (32 yrs), Anchor Role, (av 36.6, SR 78%, R50+ 4.5) 
  • 6.  Dhananjaya (27 yrs), Batting AR, Off Spin (av 22.1, SR 68%)
  • 2nd option, Thirimanna (30 yrs), Batsman (av 42.4, SR 91%)
  • 7.  Dasun Shanaka (27 yrs), Batting AR, MFast  (Power Hitter no3, av 22.0, SR 114%, R6-33%, R4-32%, (R6+R4-65%)
  • 8.  Wanindu Hasaranga – Batting AR, Leg Spin, LA (Power Hitter no4, av 26.2, SR 112%, R6-21%, R4-38%, (R6+R4-59%)
  • 9.  Udana (31 yrs), Bowling AR, Left Arm FM (Power Hitter no 5, av 19.0, SR 96%, R4-31%, R6-28%, R6+R4-59%) 
  • 10.  Lahiru Kumara (22 yrs)
  • 11.  Nuwan Pradeep (32 yrs)

Above team will have a very strong batting line up as can be seen from the above statistics. Some new parameters used are explained as follows,

  •  R50+ – Ratio of 50+ scores, in terms of number of innings
  • R4       –  Runs scored in boundaries, as a percentage
  • R6      –  Runs scored in sixes, as a percentage


  • 1.  Dimuth and Kusal P should open the innings. In the first match the selectors made the biggest mistake of sending Avishka to open with Dimuth. They might have thought about the left & right hand batting combination. But as Avishka is yet to master his footwork properly, I don’t recommend  him as an opener. May be at a later stage when he improves his foot work he can be the opener.
  • 2.  Kusal P has many advantages as an opening batsman. 
  • He is a wicket keeper, so has a great eye to judge the  sideway movement of quick deliveries.
  • He has the highest boundary ratio (R4 is 50%) due to the ability of exploiting the field restrictions to the maximum during the initial 10 overs with proper placement and timing.
  • He has the highest SR of 105% among the top three batters. So he can be considered as the best Power Hitting option among the opening batsmen.
  •  He has the best ratio for 50+ scores (R 50+ is 2.5). Every 2/3 innings he is expected to score 50+ runs (which includes centuries as well). Therefore he should face the maximum number of deliveries. Also due to very low 50+ ratio he is ideally an anchor role batsman.
  • 3.  Avishka’s ideal place to bat is no 3 and he has performed well in the recent outings, so we must not disturb that. However if he improves his foot work, at a later stage he can open the innings with Kusal P (Dimuth bat at no 3) and on a good day we can witness a century opening partnership within the first 10 /12 overs.
  • 4.  Shehan Jayasuriya has to be the first option for no 4 position while Kusal Mendis should also be in the system as option 2. In all batting parameters Shehan has a better track record (better av, SR, R-50+ & R4) than Kusal M so he deserves to be considered as the first option. 
  • Kusal Mendis & Shehan should be played on a rotational basis as both of them are highly talented, young and good prospects for the next WC in 2023.
  • 5.  Mathews has to start bowling pretty soon and that will improve the team balance as well as providing more options to the captain on seam bowling.
  • 6.  Dhananjaya – Although Thirimanna’s batting records are better than Dhananjaya’s the latter makes the cut as he is doing good as an off spinner as well. 
  • 7.  Dasun Shanaka He is an interesting prospect who has received a raw deal from the selectors for some unknown reason. If you look at the statistics he has the highest sixes ratio (R6 of 33%), highest SR among all the proposed power hitters (as shown below). More over he is a Batting All rounder an ideal player to occupy no 7 position.
  • Comparison of the proposed 5 Power Hitter’s Track Records
  • Dasun Shanaka: (PH 3) av 22.0, SR 114%,  R4-32%, R6-33%,  R4+R6- 65%
  • Hasaranga:            (PH4) av 26.2, SR 112%, R4-38%, R6-21%, R4+R6- 59%
  • Kusal Janith:         (PH1) av 42.5, SR 105%, R4-50%, R6-3%,  R4+R6- 53%
  • Avishka:                   (PH2) av 35.5, SR 100%, R4-45%, R6-14%, R4+R6-59%
  • Udana:                      (PH5) av 19.0, SR  96%,  R4-31%, R6-28%, R4+R6- 59%
  • 8.  Hasaranga He is a very young prospect (22 yrs) who started as a lower middle order aggressive batsman who maintains a healthy average of 26.2 which is excellent for a no 8 batsman. He is a very capable leg spinner as well.
  • 9.  Udana, has to bat at no 9 which gives SL an excellent batting line up up to no 9 position. Being a left armer Udan will bring more variety to our bowling line up.
  • Above batting line up is very strong having an either a specialist batsman or a batting all rounder up to no 9 position. It has five Power Hitters who will maintain the required highest RRs required to achieve Target Team Totals in excess of 350 runs on good batting tracks.
  • Why Thisara with all recent failures in batting & bowling still is an automatic choice of the selectors in our ODI team

My strong objection why Thisara has become an automatic choice of Asantha is due to the fact that during the last 6 months he has played in 13 matches (he represented the maximum number of matches for SL during this period) and his track records are disgraceful to be mentioned. It’s a mistery why our selectors are so keen to reserve a permanent place to a non performing, out of form batsman like Thisara Perera.Thisara Perera’s Track Records for the last 6 month period (from 15th Jan 2019 upto now)      Thisara (last 6m) –  Inn 13- Runs 119- av 9.2- SR 86%,  R50+ 0%, R4-7%, R6-20%      Thisara in the WC- Inn  6- Runs   61- av 10.2 SR 95%, R50+ 0%, R4-0%, R6-21% I honestly believe and hope that our selectors will pick a good team for the last two matches with BD, after identifying the true strengths of the deserved players in the squad and not include any players who failed in the WC. Prepared by Susantha Jayawardena

Leave a Comment


  1. Agree about Thisara Perera. He’s been given numerous chances with little return with either bat or ball. If they are going for ‘consistency’, he is the last person to be associated with that word. Yes, he can play a blinder, but with an average of 20 in ODIs, at the age 30, he’s been given a chance one too many. Either he needs to mature up or someone waiting in the wings needs to be given a chance. With the World Cup in India, maybe a spinning all-rounder needs to be seriously looked at. There needs to be a specialist spinner in the bowling line up as well.

    Asantha De Mel’s selections have been bizarre – but we do need to give him credit for blooding Oshada and Avishka Fernando. The question needs to be whether Asantha’s strength is identifying talent – maybe when it comes to team compositions he just does not understand how to get the balance required right. Dimuth as the captain also needs to put up his hand in such scenarios. No specialist spinner in the line-up in the last game was mind boggling.

  2. Going forward I don’t think playing Isuru and pradeep will help in preparing for 2023 cause Isuru(31) and Pradeep(32+) it’s highly unlikely they’ll be past their best in 4 years from now, need to groom players like rajitha, asitha and kumara into being the pace trio

  3. Johan, your point is noted. However when you select the 4/5 pacies for the 2023 WC we need to think about the variety of the bowlers. We definitely need a left armer and I would not know whether we have any performing left armer apart from Udana. Besides Udana is also a bowling all rounder who is specialized for power hitting. I hope he will keep his fitness in good shape so that he will be able to perform at the age of 35 yrs. Malinga is a good example. Anyway if there is any young left armer in the system we can develop him as the second option. For Pradeep I dont think there is any problem to find a young bowler as the secod option..

  4. I am happy that in todays match selectors made some of the changes I have mentioned in my write up.

    1. They rested Thisara
    2. A main spinner was added (Akila D)
    3. All three fast bowlers in my list (Lahiru, Pradeep & Udana) played today.

    Todays fast bowling attack was good.

    As we have won the rubber I hope they will do few more experimenting by bringing in Dasun & Shehan J to the team for the next match.

    Well done selectors !!