Mahela out of today’s game

By Daminda Wijesuriya

Mahela Jayawardena
Sri Lanka has nothing to pick up but some lost pride, as a top level cricketing nation, in the fifth and final ODI against India today. The day and night encounter is only of academic interest and is played to please the TV advertisers, since the hosts have won the series 3-1 already.

Sri Lanka is willing to rest the out of form Mahela Jayawardane and few other senior players to make room for youngsters on tour. Mahela is facing a lean patch in the ODI series, with only 77 runs to his credit in four innings.

"He (Mahela) is suffering a groin injury and most likely he will sit out for the last match in Delhi" confirmed Sri Lanka team manager Brendon Kuruppu yesterday.

It's also learnt that few other cricketers are also suffering with minor injuries and it's going to be an eleventh hour decision as to who is going to play and who is going to be on the bench today. However, youngsters will have a better chance of playing today.

For decades, this has been the problem with Sri Lanka team selections on tour. Youngsters get the opportunity only when the series is decided or when a senior player is injured and totally unable to play. Even a half fit senior is favored over a promising youngster and the situation has not changed even after a quarter century of test cricket.

It's interesting to see if the youngsters can pull off a win today without their seasoned match winners.
After the champions trophy, Upul Tharanga made a good comeback by scoring 295 runs in four games with a century and two half centuries. More aggressive than he was in the past, Tharanga has showed that he can be a successful partner to dashing Dilshan in the 50 over game. Dilshan is currently enjoying an average of 83.25, scored 333 runs in the series. Now it's a question of carrying on in the same platform they built on this tour.

Number Three, Kumar Sangakkara, is not far behind with 217 runs in four innings but he needs a big innings to salvage his team's pride today. Sangakkara scored his last ODI century 18 months ago, against Bangladesh at Karachi.

Despite scoring 315 for six in 50 overs, Sangakkara and his men allowed India to overtake them in 48.1 overs in Kolkata.

"(Suranga) Lakmal and (Suraj) Randiv bowled well but there wasn't enough back-up. The fast bowlers should have been more disciplined. The key for the bowlers is to maintain the line and length in such situations and we failed," Sangakkara told AFP after Sri Lanka lost the series in Kolkata.

Sangakkara is known to criticize his own team mates when things go wrong but the question is whether he gets the fullest support from them?

In the entire series, including tests and T20's, Ajantha Mendis has been reduced to a mere club bowler and Lasith Malinga's effectiveness is nowhere to be seen. With dew playing a big part during the north Indian winter, catches go a begging and Sri Lanka's reputation as a professional outfit is under the microscope.
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