Zimbabwe thrashing highlights Sri Lankan threat at WT20

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Strong showing against Zimbabwe reaffirms Sri Lanka’s ability to go all the way
By Goutham Chakravarthi | September 19, 2012

Photo
Ajantha Mendis proved too hot to handle for the Zimbabweans. © AFP

COLOMBO – Mahela Jayawardene was right to brush aside talk of his side choking in the final stages of big tournaments. After all, as one of the strongest contenders of the WT20, looking too far ahead is the last distraction his team needs at the moment.

PhotoAfter instrumenting a few scares against Bangladesh and South Africa in a T20 tri-series recently, Zimbabwe were expected to provide stiff opposition to the home team. But for their spinners, their performance was abysmal.

Watching the game at The Cricket Club Cafe in Colombo was special, as it made picking the brains of cricket fans from all across the globe possible.

The wickets in Sri Lanka might not be the same as they were years ago, and the composition of Sri Lanka’s playing XI is a stark reminder of that. Gone are the days when their spinners squeezed the life out of opponents with their nagging accuracy. Instead, nippy medium-pacers in Nuwan Kulasekara, Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera are now their prime middle-over bowlers, with Ajantha Mendis and Lasith Malinga providing the attacking options.

It was always going to be an uphill task for Zimbabwe against such an attack if they didn’t restrict Sri Lanka to fewer than 150. Poor fielding and insipid bowling put paid to that, as Kumar Sangakkara and Jeevan Mendis put on a crucial 94-run partnership, studded with some very imaginative and powerful stroke-play. By the end, the Zimbabweans had run out of breath and were batted out of the game.

Ajantha Mendis seems to have found his mojo again after a long injury lay off. Zimbabwe seemed clueless against him. He finished with figures of 6 for 8; figures that are hard to digest even in a high-school game.

ESPNCricinfo’s The Two Chucks, Jarrod Kimber and Sam Collins, who were at The Cricket Club Cafe had different views on Ajantha Mendis.

Kimber said that he doubts Sri Lanka would "even play Ajantha Mendis in the latter stages of the tournament."

"Most top teams have worked him out,” he says.

On the other hand, Collins picked Sri Lanka as his favourite to win the World Cup.

Even as Zimbabwe seemed clueless against Jeevan Mendis and Ajantha Mendis, newly-wed couple Kit Stephenson and his lovely wife Kate from the UK were unequivocal of their favourites – Sri Lanka.

Indeed, Sri Lanka appear to have all the bases covered, and appear to be one of the favourites for the tile. While no team coming into the tournament was a runaway favourite, Sri Lanka might have their noses ahead of others at the moment.

It would be interesting to see if Akila Danajaya will force his way into the playing XI in the later stages of the tournament at the expense of Ajantha Mendis; holding back on their trump cards for later has been Sri Lanka’s strategy in the past.

It’s still a long way to go yet, but Sri Lanka would be glad to have avoided an early slip-up.

Goutham Chakravarthi is an Indian freelance journalist, podcaster and founder of The CouchExpert.

© Island Cricket

7 Comments

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  1. I hope Mahela doesnt make the
    I hope Mahela doesnt make the same mistake as Sanga, if Mendis performs he has to be in the team no matter what opposition.Not picking the most economical bowler of the World Cup for the final was one of the reasons we lost to India in 2011.

  2. Very true, if his form
    Very true, if his form continues in this way, then we should definitely play him. I don’t see the fuss over Mendis being weak against the Indians, we were more than happy to utilise Malinga who they seem to have worked out for now.

  3. Its very easy to take wickets
    Its very easy to take wickets against weak teams. Wait for his encounter against big shots, which are good players of spin. Then we will see how many records are broken.

  4. If its easy to break records
    If its easy to break records against weak teams then why couldn’t the overweight, flabby, pie chucking Indian bowlers like Zaheer Khan, R Ashwin, Yuvraj Singh and Co break records against the weakest team in the tournament, Afghanistan.

  5. The weakest Team>>!!!!!!!!!
    The weakest Team>>!!!!!!!!! If you had seen that match you can also judge that one cannot say the Afghanistan Team is a novice and weak team. AND ALSO DO NOT FORGET THAT RECENTLY THEY HAVE BEATEN SOMEONE AT THE WARMUPS AT HOME. (he he).

  6. yeh and they almost beat the
    yeh and they almost beat the FLAT TRACK CHAMPS, shame they couldn’t hold on to their catches, FLAT TRACK CHAMPS, wouldn’t have crossed 100! LOL

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