Dilshan Munaweera the only consolation

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2017-09-10

Thankfully the Indian series is over. I am sure that it is the common mindset of almost everyone and I mean the players included.

Losing as we know is contagious and can be a negative rub off on everyone. When a team goes through such phase the greatest challenge for anyone is to restore the self-confidence factor of the men involved. It could be from the head coach to the support staff and down to the players. It's a question of what more can be done to win or will this new plan work in their mindset that keeps doing its rounds in the squad.

I am sure the support staff was bound to put up a brave face and declare that the team had everything in them to win. The players need to always hear the positives and every player would have been told that, it's just a temporary phase and it's not far from the truth either. However, the sad reality during the just concluded Indian tour was the so called brief phase appeared to be more than permanent. No gun used by the Lankans be it the howitzer version of Sri Lanka or anything close to it was able to penetrate the very strong Indian defense.

From that perspective if we briefly understand the outcome of the T 20 game, our readers would comprehend my argument better.

Once again to everyone watching it was plain that Sri Lanka could have done better. The final score of 170/7 in twenty overs after over forty dot balls in the innings tells you a story. Imagine if fifty per cent of those dot balls were used to get thirty more runs. I am positive the hosts would have been home and dry and beaten India. Once again these are all told in hindsight which is the easier way of analyzing any situation, though I must honestly confess that one particular selection in the side baffled me.

Readers should understand that criticism in this column of a player is not for his quality but for his usefulness in the given situation and also, though it's viewed by many as being personal, that's definitely not the case.

Ashan Priyanjan is a player of great promise, who had never played T 20 cricket before and whose credentials going into the said game during last year was obviously questionable. How the selectors found him to be the replacement for Siriwardane is beyond me.

Besides putting Priyanjan under pressure, I am not sure his innings would have served the interests of the side either. Yes anyone reading the scorecard today wouldn't complain too much about a run a ball inning though the impact was how the innings was constructed.

The number of dot balls that were played, the inability to dominate when it was needed from the set batsman were all factors in the reduced final score though in fairness to the batsman, he did make up for it with some runs in the last over. However any top T 20 team in the world would have your top six striking at around 120% to 150% over a reasonable period, which was not the case in this Sri Lankan team. One would have thought the out of favour Dananjaya De Silva could have been a better option.

On the positive side though, Munaweera was in a class of his own. The Dilshan Munaweera that batted in the T 20 game was twice or thrice the player that played in the two limited over games. In the fifty over version, Munaweera appeared to be stroke less and out of confidence but in the T 20 version where he is very much at home the shot selection against all bowlers were magnificent. Sunil Gavaskar, who questioned his selection for the fifty over format, was all praise for him after his innings.

My attempt in the preceding chapters is to try explaining the two sides of the Sri Lankan game and what it meant in the end to the result. Besides there is no taking away the fact that, at least in the limited over series which included the T 20 game Sri Lanka had her moments. It's the opinion of most that the team could have ended up with a better show and a closer result in the said formats which eventually ended up as a total annihilation and a clean sweep which may not reflect the actual opportunity the hosts had.

However my conclusion doesn't mean to take anything away from the quality of cricket India played. They were good. The final result just made them look even better or great.

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