Defeat looks a possibility for Sri Lanka in the 3rd Test too considering the way the game has panned out so far. My assessment is based at the end of day two and the way the pitch has played at the New Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg, though the game has seen glorious uncertainties.
Columns News - TALKING CRICKET
Losing a Test match inside three and half days wasn't the ideal start for Sri Lanka in 2017. This is especially critical as it did come on the back of losing the 1st Test in the series too and with this game the series is done and dusted for the visitors. The third and final Test starts on 12 January at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.
It may sound as an insult or a lack of confidence in the team, but in reality the knowledgeable cricket fan, critique, player, coach, commentator, writer etc. etc. knew that the South African tour by Sri Lanka happening at the moment was a tough assignment. If Sri Lanka was expected to win the series then that was aiming too high. South Africa despite being depleted by the absence of some of their key players had just beaten Australia in Australia which was a massive confidence boost for the team.
Is India really as good as they look, in all ages of cricket or hasn't the other teams kept up the pace of progress? That's my question today as I attempt to understand how Sri Lanka lost the Youth Asia cup final played at the R.Premadasa Stadium under lights. The baffling thing about the whole affair was the way the Lankans surrendered from virtually a strong position and allowed India to get a foot in, from where India never looked back.
Sri Lanka's current tour of South Africa is possibly the biggest and the toughest this young team has encountered since their trip to England in May 2016. One has to understand and accept that England in May was different with many young players in the side struggling to find their feet and trying to make an impression in very difficult conditions. It was the type of tour that could have questioned the very ability of a player and also bring in a lot of self-doubts into their game. This is especially true when you come across conditions that are cold, foreign and bowlers who thrive in such settings. Anderson and Broad, though struggling in India at present, were menacing and challenging to the best in the world in cold and seaming conditions of England, and hence, the Sri Lankan players on that tour were no match to them at all. The defeat and the capitulation wasn't a surprise for the knowledgeable cricket fan, though it was quite obvious that Sri Lanka couldn't have got any worse from that pounding both in the tests and ODI's.
Looking at the Sri Lankan squad picked for South Africa confirms that the selector's job is never an easy task. Generally the job of a selector is dependent on both the positive and the negative aspects that govern a situation, and they should be mindful to maintain the correct balance when picking a squad. Obviously the selectors had the opportunity to pick the squad from a positive situation, where the selection options are healthy and good. Besides, one has to always assume that the selectors are the experts on the job and their decisions are based on the knowledge they carry, as well as in the best interest of the respective situation. Hence, the reason why such a decision may not be overturned even in a court of law despite all arguments one could have against such a selection.
The much looked forward to domestic tournament is just kicking off after a week's postponement. The tournament is bound to lose its sheen somewhat with the national cricketers being away on tour to South Africa, and then briefly to Australia. With the void left by sixteen cricketers, the expected competition is bound to suffer, though one has to look at it as an opportunity for the next rung of players to stake a claim in the bigger stage.
So it's Sri Lanka versus Zimbabwe in the Tri Nation Final today. It may appear to be a one sided contest, and it could surely turn out to be that way. This, only time will tell. However, that can never take away the achievements of the hosts of getting there against all odds.
After an impressive performance in the tests and a comprehensive win in the opening triangular series game, the Sri Lankans should be utterly disappointed with their effort in the outing against the West Indies. Whilst the Lankan bowling can't be faulted for the loss, the batsmen, who did impress up to that point, need to accept the full responsibility for the inability of the team to have overhauled a gettable score on a good batting surface.
Dimuth Karunaratne, though clinching the man of the series prize in the two Test series against Zimbabwe, was not the star for Sri Lanka. It was undoubtedly the diminutive skipper Rangana Herath who stole the show.
Being given the leadership almost at the eleventh hour one has to concede that getting one's mind around to such a job is never an easy task.
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