Lankans were zero opponents in first T20 | Sunday Observer

Lankans were zero opponents in first T20

With the dawn of the year 2020 came the T20 series with India. There are always emotions brought into play when the two countries face each other. The T20s this year will be no exception.

Once the selectors led by former pace aces and all-rounder Ashantha de Mel, Vinodhan John and Chaminda Mendis pick the final squad for the T20 World Cup and gives it to the coaching staff saying here’s the best and nothing but the best, the coaching staff will have to ensure a performance that will usher in a new beginning for the team where performance has been far from optimal.

This column is written after the second T20 against India after the first game was washed out. Malinga’s captaincy is on display and test again. While as a bowler he is always threatening, his real challenge is to get the players to play and perform as a team. Cricket being a team sport requires that it plays as a team. Individual play will not take the team to success.

This would be the focus of coach Arthur and chairman of Selectors and manager de Mel. The team cannot and should not be allowed to play in compartments. The New Year sees the Lankans playing a cocktail of cricket, T20s, limited overs and all what the game is all about Test cricket. So all players and those directly involved with the game will have a hectic time.

Penciled for Sri Lanka to play are nine Test matches, 12 ODIs and 16 T20s. Our fans will be eagerly looking forward to Sri Lanka’s performance in the coming T20 world competition to be called ‘play’ in many venues in Australia come October. From now on, all coaches, players and countries will be focused on the second highest money winner after the 50 over World Cup, the T20 and will strain to the maximum every nerve, sinew and muscle to lay their hands on this trophy and the big purse.

Head coach Arthur and his support staff are aware of this great responsibility where anything other than winning the trophy is top priority. Excuses however good will not be accepted. The selectors have already shouldered the task of captaincy on Lasith Malinga. This is a four overs per bowler tournament and it will be the responsibility for every bowler to concede the minimum runs and looking for wickets not letting the opposing batsmen to run away with the game by making a big score.

Malinga as captain has tasted success before leading the country to carry away this trophy in 2014 when they beat a formidable Indian team in the tournament conducted in Bangladesh. But that is history now. Back to the second T20 against India and it was sad to watch the manner in which Sri Lanka played poorly to allow India to cruise to victory by seven wickets with captain Kholi cracking a six to end the agony of Sri Lanka.

The Lankans did not seem to have a game plan. They just seemed to be opponents and never threatened the home team. It is hoped that coach Arthur would have told them where they went wrong and that the Lankans would recover and endeavor to be worthy opponents and win the final game and square the series.

Skipper Malinga who is under scrutiny and who is expected to lead the sting in the bowling conceded the most runs - 41 in his 4 overs. The Indian batsmen feasted on him. Having said that we move on and can’t understand the move by the International Cricket Council to reduce the usual five-day Test matches to four days. Accepted that some of the matches don’t go the distance and finish inside five days.

But to reduce it by a day from the original five is not cricket. The ICC need not be told that Test cricket is the most sacred and revered game since the game came into being and they must not tinker with it and reduce its estimation and make it lose its value. The ICC must think of other ways to help keep Test cricket more competitive and keep it going for five full days.

The batting sensation at the moment in all forms of the game Indian skipper Virat Kohli has fired at the ICC idea of reducing a five day Test to four and said that it should not be altered. ‘Day-Night Tests is the most that should be changed about Test cricket’. Kholi further said that with four-day Tests ‘you are purely only talking about getting numbers in and entertainment and I think the intent will not be right’.

“Then you will speak of three-day Tests. I mean, where do you end. I don’t endorse that (change) at all. I don’t think that is fair to the purest format of the game – how cricket started”.

Kholi further adds: “Day-Night Tests are another step on commercializing Test cricket and creating excitement around it, but it can’t be tinkered with too much.”

King Kholi has spoken words of wisdom and hope the ICC takes note.

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