Sri Lanka will qualify, but can they perform well in second phase of the tournament to the semi- final’s stage? – by Sunil Thenabadu (Brisbane – eLanka Sports editor)
Photo Source: Island
The name of Sri Lanka the small island in the Indian ocean became known to many after we won the PLUM of cricket ,the ICC World Cup in the year 1996.This was the era when Sri Lanka’s cricket was at it’s peak when so many passionate, obsessive fans began to follow the game to throng to cricket grounds to support the team. During this era and thereafter Sri Lanka cricket team was a force to be reckoned with beating many top teams and also etching our performance in record books. Today Sri Lanka holds many world records, VIZ., the highest team total for an inning in Test cricket, highest partnership for any wicket, Most number of test wickets by a bowler, batting through all day in Tests by a duo in four separate partnerships, innovative Dilscoop stroke etc
The ICC T 20 commenced in the year 2007.Todate only a few editions have been completed to be precise this is the 7th edition. Many countries are yet to win the plum but Sri Lanka have won in year 2014 , also having been runners up in years 2009 and 2013 very creditable for a team who were minnows or sprats when gaining ICC Test status in year 1981.
All fans know and would agree our team in all formats had not done fared well in the international circuit in the recent years. Simultaneously the fans who supported have diminished alarmingly in the recent past. However, when a relatively younger team lead by Dasun Shanaka triumphed in Pakistan whitewashing them 3 nil in the T20 series in their own backyard the fans did get up from the doldrums. But in the Test format Sri Lanka did not live up to expectations. To the lead up to the ICC T20 World Cup all member teams including the associated members were afforded the opportunity to play many ODI and T20 matches some as hosts. Sri Lanka triumphed in the three match ODI series against formidable Proteas wining a bilateral series after eight years.Then Sri Lanka beat a more fancied India in the three match T 20 series which dumfounded them. Although it was said was a second-string Indian outfit,it was not so as there were a number of players who had participated in T 20 internationals as well as Tests who were included in the squad. However, in the more recent T 20 series we were whitewashed by more formidable South Africa in our own backyard.
The squad that was elected sans many senior players above thirty years were made to practice as a unit focussing attention on the ICC T 20 WC 2021.The fifteen-man squad prior to the ICC world cup proper in phase one has to play in qualifying matches against Netherlands. Namibia and Ireland where only two teams from this group will qualify to play in the second phase ICC T 20 proper in super 12 Group A which luckily Sri Lanka would not have to face any Asian team.
All our fanatic cricket fans are amazing. They all know well that the chances of reaching the semi-finals stage are very bleak. But they all very optimistic keep believing the young team would deliver .The matches would be played in Oman ,Sharjah and Abu Dhabi where the IPL was concluded.The spin would be a huge part in these matches.Our Wanindu Hasaranga is the world’s 2nd ranked bowler in ICC rankings though he did not come good in the few IPL matches he played for the Royal Challenges Bangalow he is sure to come good would rattle the opponents like he did initially in Pakistan who were unable to read his leg spin and googly.To assist him there would be Maheesh Theekshana,Dhananjaya de Silva and Akila Dhananjaya.
As we all know experienced stalwart Mahala Jayewardena who has ample experience in coaching Mumbai Indians for many years has been named as the cricket consultant for our team. Unfortunately, his services would be restricted to the phase one only, for the three group A matches as he is already reserved for the U 19 coaching stint.It is learnt that Mahela Jayewardena together with coach Mickey Arthur had made data analysis on Avishka’s batting.It had revealed that it takes about 10 to 15 balls for him to get accustomed to pitch and bowlers.In this scenario he was asked to bat No 4 where he had clicked in the warm up matches.Likewise Mahela would be a tower of strength to coach and selectors to pick the ideal combination of players in the final eleven.Also with the guidance of batting coach Grant Flower there are a few pranks to be learnt on the sweep, the conventional, paddle and the reverse.This area for Sri Lankan batsmen’s nightmare, which the coaching staff had not addressed.
It is difficult to predict who would lift this year’s ICC WC 2021.Legendary spin wizard Muttiah Muralidharan had expressed his views to the media THERE ARE NO CLEAR FAVOURITES,ANY TEAM COULD END UP LIFTING THE TROPHY-was included in his ICC column. He believed that spinners are sure to play a huge role, with predominately low scoring matches.
It is pleasing to note that Sri Lanka had won all practice matches only Oman giving a run for our money. It should be mentioned that most batsmen and bowlers performed admirably. Of course Avishka Fernando was at the helm in batting scoring freely, the new find Pathum Nissanka batted admirably so was reliable allrounder Chamika Karunaratne with both bat and ball.It is the fervent hope that in the next phase the team members would click together as a cohesive unit.The skipper Dasun Shanaka backs inexperienced Sri Lanka to go deep. ”I think we’we struck a good balance”.It should be stated that Kusal Janith Perera on of the hardest hitters of the game would keep wickets in addition to opening batting probably with Pathum Nissanka.Kusal Janith had opened batting in the WC winning team in year 2014 with TM Dilshan
The curtain raisers in the Group B in the first phase commenced yesterday in the ICC T 20,2021 in Oman on the 17 October between Oman vs Papua New Guinea,Bangladesh vs Scotland. Both captains of Oman and Bangladesh opted to field winning the FLIP. Oman won in admirable fashion by 10 wickets with over six overs to spare ,a massive margin for any T 20 clash.The first UPSET in the tournament was when Scotland put into bat beat the more fancied Bangladesh by just six runs.it should be stated that Bangladesh had included many top T 20 players,well recognised including the world’s best T 20 all-rounder in Shakib l Hasan. Also included were many recognised talented players like Das,Soumya, Rahim,Mahamudullah (c), Taska, Mehedi and Mushtafizur most had even skippered Bangladesh recently. There should be many more surprises to come as the game of cricket is full of uncertainties.
On the second day of the ICC T 20, 2021 tournament today in a Group A clashes between Ireland and Netherlands.. while Sri Lanka play Namibia .
(eLanka Sports editor)