Slipshod Sri Lanka embarrassed by professional India

By Trevor Chesterfield | May 30, 2010

It can’t get any goofier or more horrendous than this. Or can it?

Sri Lanka’s so-called World Cup bench strength playing like the Kandy Central fourths, have been outclassed in every department and exposed as rank amateurs in their opening joust of the tri-series, at Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

Apart from forgetting the basics against a well-drilled, professional India, with the running between wickets sliding to a lamentable exercise little better than a Sunday social club outing farce, it again displayed poor technique and begs the question of what is the coaching staff doing to correct basics you are taught at junior school level.

Three run outs are bad enough, but it should have been four but for that most inept of Indian players, Dinesh Karthik. He fumbled a chance to terminate Chamara Kapugedara’s innings when the Sri Lankan went for a risky second run in the 33rd over, knocking off the bails with his gloves before collecting the return ripped in by Ravinda Jadeja. It was clumsy and as it gets and was seriously poor keeping.

Kapugedara, described by one selector some time ago as being better than the South African AB de Villiers, was on a shaky eight at the time and scratched around further against tight Indian bowling and tidy fielding while the injured Angelo Mathews, even hobbling on one leg, made him appear ordinary.

Also, Sri Lanka went into the game with the wrong bowling attack for the pitch conditions. They had no idea what length to bowl and lacked the ability to penetrate as well. Another part of the problem is how the injury to the Sri Lanka vice-captain, Mathews denied the captain Tillakaratne Dilshan, of an important extra seamer, not that this mattered.

Had he been part of the attack, it would have only delayed the inevitable defeat. This one was by seven wickets in the 44th over and 39 balls remaining in what is shamefaced defeat of the nightmare variety.

Hopefully, Ashantha de Mel’s discredited bunch of selectors had a long hard look at the shambles they have helped create unfold before what would have been an embarrassed Aravinda de Silva’s gaze. It asks the question again, if this is the best bench strength Sri Lanka have to offer for the World Cup next year, it is enough to make the new panel cringe at such a disgraceful display.

Nine months is not a lot of time to get the best numbers together for quality bench strength, and there are good players around the traps. Any change to those on show on Sunday in the landlocked African nation’s second biggest city would be a major improvement.

A large multiracial crowd at least enjoyed the batting of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli as India remorselessly hunted down the 243 needed to win, with Sharma repeating his century against Zimbabwe with a stylish encore. It is interesting how he began this series with a Kapugedaraesque average in the low 20s, but back to back centuries has changed all that and he is now in the low 30s.

Examining this venue-breaking record partnership of 154 against Sri Lanka, the strike rotation was impressive when you think that only 52 runs were scored in boundaries, and it is a big field at Queens, it shows up the Sri Lankan batting effort for what it was, pathetic, with only two going past the half-century mark and Mathews having to call for a runner because of cramp, and possibly a groin injury. This also suggests a lack of fitness and not a good impression for someone this age. As this was in chilly conditions he shouldn’t end up with a problem where by the time he entered the 60s, he was in trouble. At least he has a day’s break before the second game, against Zimbabwe to sort out the fitness concerns.

Sri Lanka’s innings failed to ignite at all. There was none of the adrenaline pumping batting you were hoping to see in the limited-overs arena. What with Thilan Samaraweera losing his patience and giving Pragyan Ojha the charge too soon, Kapugedara’s careless strokeplay that led to a soft dismissal and Chamara Silva’s foolish sweep attempt too soon at a well-flighted Jadeja delivery, along with earlier run out of Dilshan, there was no chance at all of posting a match-winning total. Well, one that would place India under some pressure.

There are nine Test players in the Sri Lanka squad and all have good records, but they were out-thought, out-batted and out-bowled by an Indian side with three new opening bowlers and only four players with minimal Test experience. It makes you wonder just how much more professional and committed are India compared to Sri Lanka.

It was during the Sharma/Kohli partnership, where both batsmen reeled off entertaining drives, cuts and fancy wrist and footwork that made you ask questions whether any of the Sri Lankans were learning how to handle conditions with similar skills. Hopefully the coaches did and the side to play Zimbabwe on Tuesday will understand what is meant by commitment and discipline.

There were also unnecessary comments by a television commentator with a pretentious accent second-guessing the so-called bonus point equation instead of talking about what was taking place in front of him. The other concern is that the Sri Lanka bowlers couldn’t find the right length and failed to take wickets, and also had no idea of what they should be doing, which showed up Dilshan’s captaincy skills.

©: Copyright 2010. Trevor Chesterfield.
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