Light at the end of the tunnel
As Sri Lanka edged closer and closer to a resounding win against South Africa in Brisbane, a huge sense of relief set in. After 3 months of sliding down a greasy pole it all turned around at the grounds known as the “Gabba” – shortened form for “Woolongabba” which is the suburb the ground is located. For all involved in the game in Sri Lanka, finally many doubts were cleared.

The win also consolidated a group of players who could form a squad for selection for the present and the nine months of cricket in the near future. The experienced players must draw out of this victory and approach the future games with confidence in their ability and the team’s collective ability.
True, the win was against an under strength South African outfit. What was significant though, was the manner in which the victory was achieved. There were worthwhile contributions from all. The South Africans were strangled to the maximum and were outplayed in all departments of the game. All that was reason to be satisfied with this performance.

The top seven batsmen must continue from where they left off when they play the next innings. Upul Tharanga and Jehan Mubarak have shed their beginner board. Mubarak has been around for a while and now has plenty of ‘A’ team and domestic cricket experience. The 61 he made must now dispel any doubts, if he had any, of his ability to perform at the highest level. Tharanga must get rid of the habit of slashing at deliveries too far outside off stump. He has an array of strokes and it is a matter of occupying the crease, then there will be the big scores, similar to the century against New Zealand.

Kumar Sangakkara, Marvan Atapattu and Mahela Jayawardena have to form the core of the top order. They have plenty of runs under their belts and must now get on with it. Select the correct delivery for shot making and the runs will come. T.M. Dilshan and Russel Arnold are as good as any top order batsman on their day. They must strive to make those good days happen more often. Dilshan has been batting at the top of the order with some success. Arnold too should be shunted up when there is a possibility.

Sanath Jayasuriya has found his way back into the side. The happenings of the last couple of months has in some ways given him a wake up call. The ‘master blaster’ has still life left in his cricketing body. He is no doubt keen to squeeze every bit out. Michael Van Dort had a cruel restart to his international career. He may have taken a lot of deliveries to get upto 48 runs, but the value was in that he stood upto all the Aussie bowlers.

That in itself was a good achievement. He must be perceived within both forms of the game. Ruchira Perera and Malinga Bandara have added the much needed punch and also support for Vaas and Muralitharan. They are both attacking bowlers and that makes them great value. On his return, Nuwan Kulasekera also performed satisfactorily. Physically he has got stronger and that has helped him gain a yard of pace. A good sign, also indicating that he is working at his game.

Add the names of Tilan Samaraweera, Lasith Malinga, Fervez Mahroof, Sajeewa Weerakoon, Akalanka Ganegama, there is talent, ability and allround strength for Tom Moody to work with. The entire list mentioned are players capable of performing against the best of international cricketers. Proper preparation and utilizing them to get the maximum in match situations is what is now required. Now we can certainly see some light at the end of the tunnel!


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