In my last column dwelling on the first Test match and at a very early stage of the game my poser was, has Sri Lanka turned the corner? Writing after just one day's play in the second Test, it appears that way. True Pakistan is the sixth ranked team in the world of Test cricket which is one place above the Lankans, but it's about the penetration of the fortress of their cricket and that's the UAE.
Columns News - TALKING CRICKET
By roshan abeysinghe
At the time of writing the first Test match hasn't entered any decisive stage at all. In fact it's nowhere close to a prediction stage either. The issues and headaches that developed against India seem to have taken a temporary break. For the first time in a few months Sri Lanka has scored four hundred plus. In fact this is the first time in thirty Tests that Sri Lanka had recorded two century stands in the same innings.
The new broom sweeping well is an adage. I wonder whether that is the case with the new panel of selectors. I am hoping it will not only sweep well but will be more long lasting. The team announced for the Test series versus Pakistan seems to have taken a refreshingly new approach. The names included and the principle in the thinking is commendable. SLC and the selectors seem to have got off to a good start in their quest to achieve some lost prestige. Let's hope it would last as long. Once again the selection is not bound to satisfy everyone as there are a few names that could have been included and in the case of the critiques, should have been selected.
Sri Lanka Cricket and its experts are trying and working hard to find the way forward to overcome the current teams decline. The reasons for such a situation are still being searched. Many from the most qualified to the fan on the street have their opinions and most of it has very good substance when closely examined.
Thankfully the Indian series is over. I am sure that it is the common mindset of almost everyone and I mean the players included.
There is little doubt that Sri Lanka could be humiliated further come the 5th ODI on Sunday. And there will be no surprises if the host actually gets defeated once again in the final game of the series ending it five games to nil. I say this simply due to the very negative mindset the team seems to be carrying. The best example of this was the run out of Kusal Mendis at the bowlers end in the last game.
The limited over series which has started rather poorly for Sri Lanka surely could have been one-all before the third game. However, it had a lot to do with how some of the men representing the country performed on the field than anything else. I am sure the fans are frustrated by the turn of events. It was visibly witnessed from a small section of fans after the Dambulla game. Although small in number their sentiment of disappointment with the team's performance was echoed by many.
Many headlines of newspapers have screamed about Sri Lanka's poor effort in the Tests and how badly redemption is required to move forward. As at now, one could argue that this is the lowest the country has fallen to and I can't see any strong points to prove otherwise. It was just a few days ago that I read an article with great interest which requests the fan to savour the past and the happy memories they carried. This is a further confirmation of the thinking of the scribes.
Sri Lanka's options going forward in the Test series versus India is about salvaging lost prestige and nothing else. With the series comprehensively lost, the plan of Sri Lanka should be to put up a better show. Honestly, having watched the Lankans closely, they aren't a side as bad as what the results reflect, or the disparity isn't as great as how it looks, purely from a results point of view.
Sri Lanka has been hurt in Galle and it appears that the pain continues even in Colombo. At the time of writing the Lankans appear to be under severe pressure to save the Test match on a pitch that is taking increasing turn. Besides the scoreboard pressure caused by India, running up a score of six hundred plus for the second consecutive game, is turning out to be a worry. In fact such a feat has been achieved by India on three different occasions whilst no other country in the world has done it more than once.
This week my focus is not on the Test match between Sri Lanka and India, but on thoughts that are stemming out of some of the circumstances of it. True the Indians have dominated the hosts up to the time of writing this column, though I don't want to think that Sri Lanka are out of it. The manner the Indian batsmen have do
After the rather forgettable One Day series against Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka's new world order with Dinesh Chandimal at the helm was launched for the first Test against the visitors. It was expected to be an exciting time for the country. It was a fresh captain after the former skipper Mathews quit and the planning and thinking along with the way forward was charted in a different way. Naturally the plan was for the seniors Mathews, Herath, Karunaratne etc. to help the young skipper and ensure that the Sri Lankan objective was achieved.
As Sri Lanka endures the challenge of the Test match posed by Zimbabwe after the forgettable One Day series, it's important and imperative to understand as to what was the cause of Sri Lanka's defeat in the ODI series. Has Sri Lanka cricket declined beyond redemption, or is there any other factor that has caused this current predicament, should be discussed and debated in a wider forum?
After possibly the darkest day in the history of the game in Sri Lanka, the National team under Mathews appear to be coming into their own against the Lowly Zimbabweans. What surprised most people was not about Sri Lanka winning but about their loss in the opening game where the Zimbabweans swept the Sri Lankan bowling out of sight. The credit that is due to Angelo Mathews and the team is on how they recovered by regrouping.
I wonder whether there was a darker day in Sri Lanka's cricket history than 30 June 2017. May be the day Sri Lanka lost to Kenya in the 2003 World Cup could rival it, but no other day has the Lankans hit such a low in their cricketing history.
Zimbabwe aren't exactly the type of team that will set the world on fire. At least that's the reflection of their current standing which is sad for a country that did produce some outstanding stars in the past. After enduring a major crisis in their home country where the game and the country appear to be at a standstill, the cricketers from Africa embark on a trip to Sri Lanka for a five ODI and a solitary test match tour.
Champions Trophy challenge as far as Sri Lanka is concerned is over. It's quite obvious that everyone including the cricketers are disappointed at the outcome and no doubt in hindsight Sri Lanka should have at least reached the semi-final. The truth is Sri Lanka lost two games they had a good chance of winning i.e. South Africa and Pakistan. The South Africans were absolutely ordinary in the tournament being thrashed by India and also losing to Pakistan. The Sri Lankan game was the only encounter they had something to show. Pakistan on the other hand kept getting better after the Indian encounter and their effort against Sri Lanka and then against England were superlative.
The unlikely Sri Lankan win over India has naturally set the Lankan fans alight living with great expectations and now possibly harbouring hopes of winning the Champions trophy. Though it could be a tough mountain to climb one can't rule out Sri Lanka getting there even against heavy odds.
Sri Lanka's biggest challenge against South Africa in the opening game of the Champions Trophy wasn't their tag of under dogs or the fact that that the South Africans had won eight out of their last nine games between the two teams. It was the doubt that Mathews carried with his injury. By the time of writing this column Mathews remains a doubtful starter and even in the event he plays its unlikely he would bowl. It's a known and an accepted fact that experience is the key in world events unlike the bilateral types. Hence Mathews's experience after playing many World Cups, World T20's and a number of IPL games, is invaluable and especially at the top as the leader.
With major cricket yet to unfold in the form of the Champions Trophy I have attempted to expand my thoughts on off spin bowling and also spot fixing in the past. This week I picked on the recommendations of the ICC cricket committee chaired by Anil Kumble.
In this week's column my attempt is to touch on a very sour subject cricket in particular has come to endure and possibly live with.
After focusing our attention on the international scene this week my attempt is to talk about the cradle of cricket in Sri Lanka which is school cricket. Sometimes I wonder what really ails a system that was considered one of the best, if not the best in the world, especially in the 60s and 70's and possibly in the 80s. Schoolboy cricketers in this country could have rubbed their shoulders with the very best in the business and defeated them more often than not. I wonder how many times Sri Lanka could have clinched a U-19 World Cup if it was ever held in the 60s or 70s, or maybe even the 80s, as players were so good and dominant.
My attention was drawn to a recent media release by SLC claiming how they have taken steps to eradicate spinners with suspect actions and especially the off spinning type. Today my attempt is to write on the subject and the dangers facing a species that is fast becoming extinct and that is a quality off spinner.
After much deliberation and planning and opportunities the Sri Lankan selectors have come up with their magic formula to win the Champions Trophy by way of a fifteen man squad. My attempt here today is to analyze their policy and selection, and if I am to be blunt is to pick holes in what they have done. Whilst I will attempt to do this, I must as I always do concede that a selector's job is a thankless one and in general terms most often wrong.
This week I want to dwell on the topic of T20 leagues and whether Sri Lanka should have one of its own. Having said that, let's not forget that Sri Lanka did have a league of its own some time ago under the brand SLPL, which only flattered to deceive. Sadly Sri Lanka hasn't had anything close to a top T20 league in the country.
The Inter Provincial tournament organized by Sri Lanka Cricket has finally got under way with the second day of matches concluded just prior to the Sinhala New Year. After a very long club tournament and a district limited over tournament, the final phase and the most competitive stage of domestic cricket has just begun. Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) should be congratulated for organizing a tournament of such a magnitude as this is naturally the need of the hour.
So it's a drawn series across all formats. That's the final result in the series between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Whilst it's a massive achievement for the visitors, the hosts will have much to look at to understand the major flaws in their game. We have attempted to analyze the Test series and the One Day series in our past columns though we hadn't taken a closer look at the T20 games which was the last leg of the series.
The scenario of the two teams going into the 3rd and final ODI on Saturday was that Bangladesh can't lose the ODI series vs Sri Lanka, which will be a first for them and Sri Lanka is unable to win an ODI series against Bangladesh, which is also a first for them against the said country in limited over cricket! In fact Bangladesh has a golden chance of winning a series against Sri Lanka in any form of cricket for the first time in their short history and if that happens, it will only be the 5th occasion that they have won a bi-lateral limited over series. So far they have beaten the West Indies, Zimbabwe and New Zealand in limited over series, which is creditable. It will be of great interest to find out how both teams will approach this hurdle on Saturday, though at the time of reading it will be a foregone conclusion.
How tough can Bangladesh be in the One Day series? I think we will soon find out when the series unfolds at Dambulla. If I were to voice my opinion on the subject at the very start of this column, my hunch is, it will be lot tougher than the Test series. That is how highly I rate the Bangladesh team.
The second Test match - which happens to be the 100th Test for Bangladesh - is beautifully poised with both teams (depending on how they progress) having a good chance of winning it. At the time of writing the Bangladeshi's couldn't be blamed if they felt that they were the ones in front, though it's their batsmen that will have to shoulder the responsibility if the result turns out to be anything different. There were two crucial points in the Bangladesh innings that the Tigers will want to forget or regret if the Lankans win the second Test or manage to draw it. The first was the last half an hour on day two where the visitors went from a comfortable 194 for two to five down for less than two hundred.
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