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Sunday, 11 January 2009

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Dilshan a MUST in all forms of the game!

The Sri Lankan cricketers had a good workout in Bangladesh, winning both Test matches, which should tune them up for the more arduous tour of Pakistan soon.

All the men played their part well and there was no way that the Lankans could have lost to Bangladesh, although at times being stretched and finally emerging victorious.

Outstanding were skipper Mahela Jayawardena, Thilan Samaraweera, Muttiah Muralitheran, Tillekeratne Dilshan, Chaminda Vaas and to an extent Kumar Sangakkara while wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardena kept up the good work.

Jayawardena’s batting form which was a bit tricky in Zimbabwe, found his form of old and his century in the second innings of the First Test was a gem. His captaincy, as usual, was first class and was an example and he could lead in Pakistan with greater confidence.

However, the man who excelled and took a swipe at his detractors was Tillekeratne Dilshan who joined a rare brand of batsman who have scored twin centuries in Test cricket.

Not satisfied with the twin hundreds in the Second Test, he showed his untapped talent in bowling by dismissing four of the Bangladeshi batsmen in the second innings to bring the Lankans a victory on the fourth day, which otherwise would have gone onto the final day.

He came in the first innings when the Lankans had lost four wickets for 75 and immediately took control and wrenched the advantage from the home team to blaze away and make the attack that was threatening look ordinary. It was his daring and arrogant strokeplay that stuffed the Bangladeshies.

Surprisingly from the time he sported national colours, his place in the team has not been permanent. While some cricketers are lucky to hold their places performing below par, Dilshan has to always score to keep his place.

For a cricketer to perform he must be given the all important confidence. And that confidence will come only if the selectors give him continuity. And it is the lack of being given continuity that makes him fail at times.

In addition to his audacious batting, he is a brilliant fielder and a more than ordinary off-spinner who has come in to break many a partnership.

As a batsman he has played many a memorable innings. In fielding he had clung on to some amazing catches. No batsman would dare hit a ball to him and attempt a run.

He has been spot on with his throws at the wicket, as he showed in running out the Bangladeshi opener in the second innings of the First Test to signal the slide of the homesters innings.

In my team any day I will play him for his fielding alone.

When he made his first big hundred (164) in Harare, Zimbabwe I had the good fortune of being there and describing it to our readers. That was in 1999 and what an innings that was! I can still picture the lovely strokes he executed.

That wonderful innings was watched by former West Indian great Clyde Walcott and later when I asked Walcott what he thought of that innings, he said that he enjoyed watching it, but warned that Dilshan must pick the correct ball to hit and if he did that, he could be an even better batsman.

But Dilshan does not seem to have heeded that advice. If you watch how he gets out it will be noticed that he picks the wrong ball to hit and thus losing his wicket. The man of the match and series was great reward.

How that he has joined the twin test hundred club, we hope he will move on from there and cement his place in all forms of the game in the Sri Lanka team.

Akhtar back in business

Shoaib Akhtar labelled the ‘Rawalpindi Express’ is back in business once again and that does not sound good for the Lankan batsmen who will have to face his thunderbolts when they tour there.

Akhtar, like all fast bowlers, is temperamental and tends to lose his cool and knock against authority. This has led to his ouster from the team which has gone to make Pakistan lose one of the most feared fast bowlers in the game.

The good news is that the ‘Rawalpindi Express’ is back on rails having won a central contract which signals his return to international cricket which would instil fear on the batsmen lining up to face him.

Akhtar’s career has always been riddled with controversy. He copped a five-year ban later reduced and then suspended when he took the officials to task for not granting him a contract last January.

Akhtar also tested positive for a banned steroid nandrolone with his pace partner Mohammed Asif. He was banned for two years and Asif for one. They were fortunate to have their bans lifted on appeal.

There is no better sight of fast bowlers in action like the tearaway Akhtar. He should fire all bowling cylinders when the Lankans front up to him.

Malik continues as captain

Shaib Malik, that wonderful Pakistani allrounder, has once again been entrusted with the captaincy and the first thing he said after being given the post by the selectors is that he will take Pakistan cricket to the top once again.

Malik’s Pakistan has been starved of international cricket and they must be licking their lips and lining up to devour the Lankans and prove that they are still a team to be reckoned with.

Malik has led Pakistan in only Three Tests, losing two and drawing one. He has won 33 and lost 10 of the 33 one day internationals as captain.

Malik is an example on the field. He has the knack to get the best out of each and every member of the team, and his teammates have rallied round him when needed.

He is a steady hard hitting batsman, tantalising off-spinner and an excellent fielder.

 

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