Sri Lankan Legends show what leadership is | Sunday Observer

Sri Lankan Legends show what leadership is

4 April, 2021

It was amazing watching the Sri Lankan cricket Legends playing in the Road Safety T20 bash in Raipur, India. Had the catch offered by Yusuf Pathan early in his innings been taken, the result would have gone Lanka’s way. But that’s how the game goes and that is why it is described as a funny game.

Maybe all the Lankan Legends would have been over 40 age wise. But the manner in which they performed in every aspect of the game was unbelievable and a lesson to the present crop of Sri Lankan players.

As is said Tillekeratne Dilshan led from the front and was rewarded with the Best All Round Player award of the tournament. He motivated the players by example and all responded like he did.

It was wonderful watching Dilshan, Jayasuriya, Kulasekera, Weeraratne, Tharanga, Herath, Mendis and Mahroof perform remarkably. Kulasekera has not lost his flair for bowling the Yorkers like he did in the semi-final against South Africa where he got five wickets.

What took the Lankan Legends to the final was their supreme fitness. They all had talent and the fitness helped them to perform like during their heydays. That a dropped catch by a little known cricketer cost them the win in the final was just one of those things.

Had that catch offered by Yusuf Pathan early in his innings being grabbed, the Indian Legends would not have made that formidable total after being put into bat.

Along with that stylish and power hitting south paw Yuvraj Singh, they just sprayed the Sri Lankan bowlers to all parts of the ring and over it and the Lankan legends had to just stand and watch the two maulers display their prowess.

Yuvraj and Pathan still seem good to play for the country. They did not seem to have lost their prowess of old and that they can’t get into the Indian team is because the Indians are teeming with talent in all forms of the game.

The twosome when they play for their franchises in the eagerly looked forward to Indian Premier League bash due to begin next month should thrill spectators with their beefy hitting and keep spectators yelling for more.

As for the Lankan Legends it was unfortunate that they had the Indian Legends as their opponents. Had it been some other team the locals would have cantered to victory.

To reiterate it was amazing to watch their fitness. The present Lankan cricketers had they watched them moving swiftly on the field would have learnt. The other day watching the replay of the Lankan cricketers who won the 1995/96 World Cup moving on the field with their fitness was a lesson and so amazing.

That was because they had a physiotherapist par excellence in Alex Kontouri who worked hard on their fitness and had them looking the best fielding side of the lot. Sri Lanka cricket will never ever get a physio of the caliber of Kontouri.

No bowling firepower

It was sad to note that the Sri Lankan cricketing army lacked the bowling firepower to demolish the West Indian batting fortress and enjoy a memorable victory in the first Test at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua.

When the Lankans folded up for 169 in the first innings and conceded a first innings lead of 102 to the Windies who made 271 and if their first innings collapse was an indication, they were going to end up in the loser’s tent.

It was a dream century by that unassuming, stylish and straight playing right hander Pathum Nissanka 103 that stole the show. He did not show fear at the bullets fired by the Windies speed guns Kemar Roach, Alzarri Joseph, Shannon Gabriel and Jason Holder and stubbornly held the batting together.

Nissanka’s innings could be best described as the only gem in what can be described as a gem-less batting Sri Lankan pit. It is hoped that Nissanka will use this debut century as a stepping stone to further enhance his career and finally end up as a reliable anchor we can count on. He has it in him to end that way. Keeping a cool head is important.

Nissanka must remember that he has a long long way to go and not be swayed by puffing up that is taking place in some media reviews. He sure has a promising future ahead of him and should not let the publicity that is showered on him get to his head and make it difficult for him to wear the helmet. Many promising cricketers have fallen by the way side spoiled by publicity.

Back to the Test and after losing skipper Karunaratne early in the second innings, Nissanka stood tall and along with Lahiru Thirimanne 70 who also made 76 in the innings too, Oshada Fernando 91, Dhananjaya de Silva 50 and Niroshan ‘aiyo’ Dickwella 96 helped Sri Lanka set the Windies a formidable sink or swim chase of 374 batting on a wicket that was expected to crumble.

But that cherished longing did not materialize as the Windies was shown the way by a gallant unbeaten century from Nkrumah Bonner 113 and a supporting knock of 52 from Mayers who saved the Test for the Windies. It was a sad indictment that Lanka did not have the bowlers to take them to victory.

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