The Lankans dominate the proceedings in second outing

Is the bad weather following the West Indies or is it the other way around? That is, are the West Indies following the bad weather? The reason for my question is, as soon as the West Indies appeared in Sri Lanka so did the rains! But rains apart it was a great respite to have the Sri Lankans playing international cricket after a break, to fine tune their game and comprehend the type of blend they will want to come in the World Cup proper.

Out of the two ODI’s played so far the Sri Lankan bowlers had a fair workout while Thisara Perera and Dilhara Fernando haven’t had a bowl. Hopefully both of them should play today. Out of the batsmen apart from the top four none of the others have had a knock in the middle and Chamara Silva hasn’t got a look in at all. Skipper Sangakkara is bound to deal with these issues in the third game today provided the weather which has been the most unpredictable stays fine.

Back to the two games played so far, the Sri Lankans should be contented with what has been achieved as a team, though the individual performances may still need some fine tuning before the world cup. In the first game the fact that Sri Lanka managed to curb the West Indies from a healthy two hundred for two wickets, with a power play in hand, to just two hundred and forty five bears proof to the powers of Lasith Malinga. And on a superb pitch provided for the first game it was a shame that the Lankans couldn’t begin the hunt as the rains came.

Tharanga laid the Anchor while Mahela was in supreme touch

The second game though was different. Under threatening and dim skies the game progressed rather surprisingly to the end, with Sri Lanka romping home with the utmost of comfort by eight wickets.

In the first game on a good track the Sri Lankan bowling was found wanting. At the time when a partnership was mounting between Barath and Sarwan, had it not been for the versatility of Lasith Malinga who dismissed both players with good slower deliveries the West Indies were bound to get to around two hundred and sixty. In any event the superior sides such as Australia, India and even South Africa would not have relented in the manner the West Indies did and the Lankans will have to be aware of the partnerships that can be a dilemma to them in the middle overs.

With the exception of Malinga and to a degree Muralitharan the rest of the bowling lacked the penetration during that time in the first game. The second game however was different. It was the ideal pitch for the Lankans bowlers to thrive on.

The Sri Lankans couldn’t have asked for a greater favour from the skipper than winning the toss and on the SSC pitch where it was slow without being in the extreme of things, the seamers as well as the spinners had a good day in the office. Whilst Kulasekera was admirable with his accurate medium fast stuff stifling the batsman, Malinga mixed his pace and variations to a great affect dismissing three more batsmen adding to the three scalps he had in the first game. As for the spinners it was perfect conditions to bowl in, as they gained abundance of help with drying of the moisture. The level of the help derived from the pitch could have been gauged by the fact that Dilshan a part time off spinner looked top class, spinning and beating the bat.

In the batting department Dilshan’s dismissal cutting at short delivery was a huge disappointment as he appeared to middle the ball and also played a breathtaking pull shot off the pace of Roach. Sangakkara the other batsman dismissed, should consider himself awfully unlucky as he looked in splendid touch from ball one. His middling of the ball and timing was evident from the commencement of his innings and the shot which dismissed him too was well timed but in the direction of the fielder at short extra cover. Upul Tharanga and Mahela Jayawardane the two not out batsmen, confirmed their form with two contrasting knocks. Whilst Tharanga looked to anchor the innings, Jayawardane cut loose towards the end finishing the issue in imposing style with a boundary over extra cover, making the contest look terribly one sided.

For the Lankans the winning of the series will obviously be a good feeling and a factor in their build up to the world cup. But what is more significant is to have the entire fifteen in match readiness. The third and the final game in the series will natrally be vital from that aspect too.

Roshan Abeysinghe is a leading cricket promoter and an international cricket commentator

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