Openers dilemma: Who should open with Dimuth Karunaratne?

Sri Lanka cricket team depart from the country to the UK for their world cup preparations. With the two-match tournament against Scotland and the two practice games for the world cup, we essentially have four games before the world cup began. With the squad already announced, we at Cricketry Sri Lanka thought to take a look at it to see our options for openers before the world cup.

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  1. Quite a tough decision. I dont think Avishka should be playing, so its either Kusal Mendis or Thirimanne. Having Thirimanne with Dimuth may help us survive the first 10 overs without losing any wickets but having Kusal Mendis will give a left hand right hand combination. I think iwould go with Mendis to open and Thiri at 3

  2. First 3 Matches Starting XI Should be

    1. Dimuth (Cpt) – Can bowl Min 2 Overs per match – Swing in the Air – English Conditions
    2. Avishka (Good in Fielding) – Attack – Continuous Talking from Dimuth Can Go for Longer Innings
    3 D. DE Silva – (Can bowl 10 Overs) – Best position to Bat & Hold the wicket – like Holding Midfield in Soccer.
    4. k MENDIS – Improved Slip fielder – Can wicket Keep (optional)
    5. K. Perera – Perfect batsman to bat at this position – Can handle presure (Wicket Keeper)
    6. A. Mathews – Best position to Bat for Him – Deep Holding Midfielder – Can build & Support for Long Innings – Experience handler.
    7. Milinda Siriwardana – Good option – batting All rounder – Can Bowl Min 5 Overs – Good Left arm Option – Can field Well.
    8. T . Perera – Bowling All rounder – Best position for Long handler..Can bowl 10 Overs
    9. Isuru Udana – Bowling All rounder – Can be trusted in this position for some quick runs – Can Bowl Min – 7-8 Overs (good option in Death Overs)
    10. Suranga Lakmal – Trusted Opening Bowler – 10 Overs for sure
    11. latish Malinga – Trusted Bowler – 10 Overs for Sure including Death Overs

  3. Batting order of the first nine batsmen has to be decided purely on the strength of each batsmen according to their roles assigned to them for achieving a higher team total, which I guess is 350 runs (in 50 overs) in this years WC.

    Out of the three PP periods which have different field restrictions (10, 30 & 10 overs), scoring boundaries, sixes and achieving the required higher run rates (RR) are difficult during the first and the last PP periods. Therefore you need specialized, powerful & very aggressive batsmen who are classified as Power Hitters. They can hit boundaries with good placement & sixes with ease during the first and the last PP over periods.

    It is obvious from the following three game plans. We should be planning to score 350 runs so that in the worse scenario we will end up scoring a competitive total of at least 320 runs.

    GP 1 (350 runs) GP 2 (310 runs) GP 3 (270runs)
    First 10 overs (Runs) 80 70 60
    (RRR) 8.0 7.0 6.0

    Next 30 overs (Runs) 170 150 130
    (RRR) 5.7 5.0 4.3

    Last 10 overs (Runs) 100 90 80
    (RRR) 10.0 9.0 8.0

    (50 over Total) 350 310 270

    To achieve the above mentioned RRs the top order specialist batsmen should maintain higher SRs as well as boundary and sixes ratios as noted below.

    R4 is the percentage of runs scored in boundaries in an inning
    R6 is the percentage of runs scored in sixes in an inning

    Lower order batsmen (both specialist batsmen and batting / bowling all rounders) need to achieve different SRs as well as R6s.

    PROPOSED NINE BATSMEN WITH THEIR BATTING ORDER FOR THE BEST TEAM BALANCE & SCORING A TARGET TEAM TOTAL OF 350 RUNS

    (1) Dimuth (SR 90%) ( Anchor role / century maker)
    (2) Kusal P (Power Hitter 1) (SR 100%; R4 50% R6 12-15%)
    (3) Thirimanna (SR 80%) (Anchor role / century maker)
    (4) Kusal Mendis (SR 90%) (R6 10%)
    (5) Mathews (SR 80%) (Anchor role / Finisher)
    (6) Dhananjaya (SR 90%) (R6 10%)
    (7) Jeewan / Milinda (Power Hitter 2) (SR 100% R6 15%)
    (8) Udana (Power Hitter 3) (SR 110% R6 25%)
    (9) Thisara (Power Hitter 4) (SR 110% R6 25%)
    (10) Lakmal
    (11) Malinga

    Susantha Jayawardena

  4. Critical issue the openers and difficult choices and agree with the options. The biggest challenge is fitting in Dimuth in the 50 over team let alone looking for 300+ targets. One wouldn’t make a plan for 300+ scores with Dimuth in the team now that we have, little choice but open with him. The rest of the equation sorts itself if the target is 300+ i.e. it has to be an aggressive batter.

    For me the two Kusals are best left at #3 &4 with Anji to follow. So the choice of the opener is Avishka (very tough ask on moving English wickets) or possibly DDS who is a career opener (I think). We could play a wild card with Thiri with specific instructions to go after the bowling. (Thiri will get caught at behind no matter what you ask him to do, just a matter of if he makes an impact before he gets out).

    There is another wild card that we can play – Siriwardene or Jeewan in a ‘Sunil Naraine’ role. Basically all or nothing as an opener but part of the bargain is you get 10 overs of bowling from a top order batter.

  5. Dear Stormy

    I am writing this after the second ODI with Scotland. I think you will now withdraw your statement written on the slow scoring pattern of Dimuth playing in the team. As I predicted he achieved a SR of 88% in his inning of 77. He is an intelligent cricketer who can adjust his game according to the toughest requirements of the current ODI format. During the first half of his inning, his SR was around 50%, and he was struggling a bit, giving two catches, but later he increased the SR to 90%, by playing sensibly scoring ones and twos and occasional boundaries. During the second half he rarely played dot balls, rotated the strike well and allowed Avishka and later Kusal to attack the bowling.

    But he made the biggest mistake in his inning when he lofted the ball & tried to score a six towards deep mid on. But he shouldn’t have played that shot. He is not a big hitter or a batsman who can score sixes towards long boundary areas. His real strength is the timing, placement and score runs in boundaries. If he didn’t play that shot, definitely he would have finished with a century and achieving a SR of around 100 – 110% easily.

    Similarly Thirimanna’s inclusion has resulted great improvement in our batting. As I predicted in my previous post above, they have scored the runs exactly according to my Game Plan 1 in scoring 170 and 100 runs during the 2nd 30 over and the last 10 over periods respectively. But they fell short by 27 runs in scoring 350 runs because during the first 10 overs they scored only 56 runs (instead of my prediction of 80 runs). That’s because Dimuth’s inning was a bit slow at the beginning. Definitely that situation will be improved in the coming matches. So whith Kusal P’s inclusion, on flat tracks we are able to score 350 runs but of course our batters will have to bat more sensibly as they will be facing much stiffer oppositions.

    Susantha Jayawardena

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