Sagging morale of our cricket curved further by Proteas | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Sagging morale of our cricket curved further by Proteas

19 September, 2021

It was apparently not a flash in the pan for our white ball cricket team for breaking the losing streak ‘hoodoo’ against formidable India. Thereafter Sri Lanka beat a more formidable South African team to gain a series win after eight years drought in a bilateral ODI series. Until the beginning of this series the tally stood at 20 loses to only five wins. With this win SL added 10 more super league points.

After the fruitful conclusion of the SLC invitation white ball tournament, focus on fitness, the endeavors of coaching staff and selectors the newly knit outfit corroborated an effective series win in the ODI series concluded against the fifth ranked ODI team the Proteas, a triumph after a drought of eight long years with a appalling record of 25 loses against five wins in eight bilateral series.

For the T20 series the selectors after much deliberation brought in experienced Dinesh Chandimal allrounder Kamindu Mendis and ‘anam manam’ mystery spinner, off spin, googly and carrom ball exponent Maheesh Theekshana not recognized much, having played a few games for Colts CC and the Lanka Premier League. He debuted as the only Sri Lankan cricketer born in the 21st century to play for SL.

On the 14th of this month, South Africa completed a 3-0 T20 whitewash drubbing in our own backyard. In the first T20 there was some endurance by us losing by 28 runs with the D/L method coming into play. In the second and third T20s the Proteas triumphing by huge margins romping home victorious by nine and ten wickets with over six overs to spare, the batting woes continuing for Sri Lanka. In all three T20s openers Quinton de Kock and Reeza Hendricks laid the foundation scoring freely against our spinners. De Koch was unanimously named ‘player of the match’ and ‘player of the series’. For the hosts only Kusal Janith Perera who came out after an illness batted with confidence and of course Chandimal making a comeback made a swashbuckling unbeaten knock of 66 not out in the first match.

At the post match media conferences Skipper Dasun Shanaka had to answer to an offensive onslaught posed by media personnel. Dasun added the Proteas were more skilled and bowled in good areas. He attributed the ‘whitewash’ mainly to the wickets that were prepared to favour our spinners which backfired but was exploited by the Proteas having a better spin combination in ‘chinaman’ exponent Tabraiz Shamsi, Keshav Maharaj and Aiden Markaram. The former is currently world’s number one ranked T20 bowler. The trio strangled our batsmen not allowing our batsmen to settle down by bamboozling them. Of course he admitted that many of our batsmen were dismissed after making rash strokes with soft dismissals. He also confessed that in the SLC domestic T20 tournament almost all batsmen performed as the wicket prepared at Pallekelle International stadium, suited them with the ball coming onto the bat. He claimed that the batsmen should adopt how to bat in the ‘power play’ overs when the strike should be rotated, not losing wickets, then plan the run rate in the next phase and thereafter in the death overs. This had been the manner of batting in the previous T20 tournaments. But all are aware of our batting strengths.

He also attributed to the fact that rain and the dew factor which hampered our spinners in gripping the ball. In contrast he stressed that Bangladesh having prepared wickets to suit their bowlers which facilitated in whitewashing NZ and Australia.

He had to answer to a question that there were four sets of opening pairs in the last four T20 internationals. When a right-handed batsman got out early to have the left and right hand duo Dhananjaya de Silva was sent in but unfortunately, he failed. But Dasun added he is talented and should be in the team. He also added that as a permanent strategy in the forthcoming T20 fixtures against Oman the same probable X1 would play with fixed batting positions in the run up to the T20 WC. When asked whether they would make changes in the final squad he said it will not be changed. He said Dushmantha Chameera and Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva are to play in the IPL which would be an enhanced experience prior to the T20 WC. When questioned about the usefulness of the batting coach Grant Flower he confessed that he had done nothing erroneous.

At a previous post-match media briefing skipper Dasun Shanaka had to answer to a bombardment of interrogations posed by media personnel. For the success he attributed the environment he had created among all players whether junior or senior to express opinion as hitherto was not tolerated. This made all players to be free and united. The selection of Maheesh Theekshana was his proposal which the selectors backed. He defended the batsmen not been able to face spin saying it was mainly due to the surface as the batsmen performed against spin in the first match while it was swing, rain interruption, D/L that caused the batting debacle in the second ODI. However, he admitted that the dot ball count was on the high side for which fine tuning need to be done. Dasun also added that any talented cricketer should be identified quoting the example of Charith Asalanka who failed in England but came back strong after he was trusted by the selectors as possessing flair in abundance which augurs well for Sri Lanka.

Despite the T20 whitewash by the formidable Proteas all fans and administrators should be happy as our cricket specially the white ball version is on a winning stretch splitting the losing streak ‘hoodo’ which in now only history both in the T20 and ODI formats. It is time to nudge on in the same vein, like we performed against the formidable Indians in the forthcoming T20 WC proper scheduled to begin on October 24. Of course Sri Lanka will have to perform well in the preliminary stage fixtures with Namibia, Netherlands and Ireland where only two will play in the big league in the WC proper. All Sri Lankan fans no doubt would be optimistic about the team performing well.

Sunil Thenabadu