One of the problems bugging Sri Lanka’s limited over team is the absence of a pair of solid openers. Not all that long ago, hopes were high that Niroshan Dickwella will fill the bill.
But his subsequent failures have put a big question mark against his name.
Two failures in the first two games of the Super Provincial Tournament have only worsened the situation.
The experienced Upul Tharanga, another World Cup probable, taking into consideration his earlier exploits in England (Specially in tandem with Sanath Jayasuriya) has failed twice already, adding to his miserable from during the last several months. Youngster Sadeera Samarawickrema has also failed to justify the high hopes of his backers collecting just 19 runs in two outings (15 and 4).
Sandun Weerakkody, another fringe player, has put his hand up with a fifty and forty but whether that’s good enough to warrant a place in the World Cup squad remains to be seen.
Dhanushka Gunathilaka who showed promise and seemed destined for a stay in the team has failed to come good in his two innings.
Thus the litany of woes continues.
It seems the situation is back to square one with the much-maligned Lahiru Thirimanne and Sandun Weerakkody; left handers both, gave the selectors something to think about with an opening partnership of 65 for Galle, of which the diminutive Weerakkody made 41.
Thirimanne’s 82 of 96 balls was a solid effort and if this form continues, he could be in the frame, given his experience.
Test captain Dimuth Karaunaratne, from the looks of it, has sensed an opening and seems determined to shove his oar in.
He survived the Malinga-inspired mayhem with a fighting unbeaten 36.
A 58 ball 44 followed.
Not exactly Chris Gayle stuff, but given the failures and inadequacies of most of the others, he has thrust his names firmly to the forefront.
In the pace department, Lasith Malinga and Suranga Lakmal pick themselves but take a look at the figures of some of the other probable candidates bowling against local oppositions.
Nuwan Pradeep (10-1-66-0) Kasun Rajith (9-1-74-2), Thisara Perera (8-0-47-0), Isuru Undana (9-0-64-2) Vishwa Fernando (7-0-67-1).
You can forgive the likes of Jason Roy, David Warner and Quinton de Kock licking their chops at the thought of the feast that will be served up.
An area of immense concern is the fact that the sensational Akila Dananjaya seems to have gone completely off the radar.
There were worrying signs in South Africa when he seemed to lack bite and turn.
His subsequent omission was not totally unexpected.
When he was on song , he was touted as the number one bowler for the country in this format. Tempus fugit?
Dananjaya’s spin partner Lakkshan Sandakan ( 9-0-68-1) in the game against Galle will also come under the microscope if he hasn’t done so already.
With so many 30 plusses in the field, shouldn’t we think about the effect they will have on the fielding--another of Sri Lanka’s problem areas.
Problems keeps mounting and solutions seem difficult to find. If this scenario continues, the selectors will be playing blind man’s bluff by the time the 23rd comes around.
Big knocks by Thirimanne, Dananjaya de silva and Milinda Siriwardana,, and smaller ones by Weerakkody and Minod Banuka propelled Galle to a mountainous total of 345 for 8.
Ishan jayaratne 3 for 33 performed reasonably while Isuru Udana was expensive.
In reply Dambulla ended on 269 with 19 balls unused. Skipper Angelo Mathews with 78 off 84 with seven fours and a six was the only batsman to top 50.
Yet it wasn't the Mathews of old.
He didn’t seem able to, or was not willing to, take the bull by the horns.
Priyanjan helped him in a smallish partnership while Jeewan Mendis and Jayaratne made 20’s down the order.
Dhammika Prasad made a welcome return with 2 for 16 in five overs. Dhananjaya de Silva was successful but at some cost.
Shehan Jayasuriya, not a complete new comer to the national team underlined his credentials with 115 off 133 balls as Colombo totaled 289 for 6 against Kandy.
He had nine fours and two sixes. Angelo Perera 82 off 84 showed some form.
Chandimal also made a useful contribution with boundary filled 35 of 34.
When rain intervened Kandy had reached 205 for 4.
In terms of the Duckworth/Lewis method, they were three runs short of victory.
Sangeeth Cooray stole the show from the national Test captain with an 82 off 100 balls.
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