Posts Tagged ‘Thilan Samaraweera’

Before I spam you with the first post on this blog after Bradman was dismissed for a duck by Eric Hollies,  I would, firstly, like to thank Subash Jayaraman, who has been very patient with me and gone through the torture that comes with working with me i.e. constantly reminding me to send in a World Cup preview for Sri Lanka!

This article was originally written for Clear Cricket.

The last few years have been quite a time for Sri Lanka. As far as limited over matches are concerned, there’s a sense in Sri Lanka that we are finally on the right track to achieving the type of consistency that is appropriate for the calibre of players that we have. Our performances were good, but not world-beating, under Marvan Atapattu. Mahela Jayawardena brought about a sense of ruthlessness, but his poor batting form in the last 1-2 years of his captaincy ensured that the ODI team was lacking direction.

I was very skeptical of how well Kumar Sangakkara would fare as a captain, largely because I felt that he was of the “wedi katha, adu weda” type (translates to “more talk, less work” from Sinhala to English). However, he has proven me wrong on all fronts, as he has been one of our best batsmen since he took over and, for once, I actually look up to him to make a big score for us. He’s led with aggression when required (who can ever forget the 93 that he made against India in Rajkot in late 2009, which, IMHO, was better than Dilshan’s 163) and can bat with caution when required (I feel the instances are countless to specifically mention one).  He has actually become the cornerstone of our batting.

The squad was pretty much on expected lines, although I was hoping against hope that Chaminda Vaas would get picked, considering how well he played in the last IPL and the way he performed as an all-rounder in the English T20 competition last year. However, the selection of the 2 Chamaras, Kapugedera and Silva, as well as that of Ajantha Mendis are what have irked many people in Sri Lanka, but some selections tend to be too baffling that it numbs fans into just praying that the team as a whole performs well.

The openers have a settled look about themselves, Dilshan knowing his role as the aggressor and Tharanga knowing his role as the not-too-aggressive opener. This opening partnership conjures images of the very successful former opening combo of Sanath Jayasuriya and Marvan Atapattu, though, to be fair to Tharanga, Atapattu didn’t really score as fast as Tharanga does.

The performance of the middle order is what I feel will decide how far we go in the World Cup. In Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, we have 2 experienced veterans who can both attack and accumulate as and when the need arises. If any bowling attack can get them out cheaply, then the onus will be on Thilan Samaraweera to bail the team out.

Samaraweera, in my opnion, is one of the most underrated players in Sri Lankan cricket. Ever since Russell Arnold retired (after the 2007 World Cup), Sri Lanka has struggled to find a player who can steady the ship and rotate the strike and ensure that not too many wickets are lost in the last 10 overs. Thilan has the capability to do that, but has not been trusted too much by the team management. Due to the insecurity about his position in the side, he is often caught in two minds, whether to attack or to accumulate. I hope that Sangakkara defines his role clearly as the innings-builder so that he can play an extremely useful part in our campaign.

Angelo Mathews is another player who will play a vital role in the team. In addition to his medium pace bowling, which is perfect for sub-continental conditions, his batting will complement Thilan in being an innings-builder. However, I hope he would bat a little more consistently so that he can play a role as a genuine no.6 batsman.

Thissara Perera is the “boy with the golden arm”, the guy whose bowling seems unthreatening but somehow gets wickets! His big hitting is also something to look out for, though additional consistency would greatly help.

Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara complement each other, as one attacks with his pace and swing, while the other attacks with good old-fashioned accurate bowling. Dilhara, as the reserve pace bowler, will bring a lot to the table if he plays in any matches, with his canny changes of pace as well as his genuinely fast bowling. Murali will want to shine in his last World Cup, so don’t be surprised to see an extra spring in his step. This might be the only World Cup Rangana Herath plays in, so expect him to come in with his big bag of tricks. He is one of the most underestimated spinners in Sri Lanka cricket, but always does justice to his talent when selected (he even performed much better than Murali during the tour to India in late-2009).

Sangakkara seems to favour Ajantha Mendis a lot, I assume, due to his supposed ‘mystery’! For God’s sake, he barely troubled the Englishmen during the Champions Trophy 2009 and didn’t trouble Adrian Barath when he scored his maiden century recently, so I would most probably expect him to get carted all over the place during the tournament and replaced by Rangana Herath (hopefully).

So, to wind this up, Sri Lanka have genuine potential to take home the Cup for the 2nd consecutive time in the sub-continent. There is a good balance of youth and experience, and everyone is fit and ready to fire on all cylinders. It all boils down to consistency!

Prediction : World Cup Winners.

Source


No, my silence hasn’t been due to Sri Lanka being on the brink of elimination from the Champion’s Trophy, but due to an excess load of work, I haven’t been able to post. However, that hasn’t stopped me from keeping track of the Champion’s Trophy, so here’s what’s been happening.

The fact that England are the 2nd team to have qualified to the semis have baffled everyone, including yours truly. After getting a right-royal drubbing from Australia and nearly got swept away 7-0, I did not, in my wildest dreams, expect England to play like they were the best team in ODIs ever.

Morgan, who looked a bit out of his depth, sizzled. Shah suddenly remember how to run and Collingwood realised that he could play big shots with the ‘Blockingwood’ bat!

As for SL…sigh! I really had high expectations for SL for the first time in a world tournament because I felt we had the best batting order in nearly 3 years. Our middle order had always been a problem. However, in Samaraweera, Kandamby and Mathews, we had a middle order which could bail us out in case Jayasuriya and Dilshan both failed. However….I just can’t point the finger to what went wrong…

West Indies haven’t done a bad job at all, bringing both matches really close till the class of the better team shone.

As for South Africa…..dear, oh dear, do I have to mention the C-word again? I just don’t know what’s up with them. If I’m not mistaken, they are the only team to have a full-time mental conditioner but they still can’t get into a final, let alone win one. I just get the feeling that the Saffers are mentally weak! Full stop. It’s the same situation with the Bangladeshis. They have a good load of talent, but just don’t have the mental fortitude to win consistently.

IMO, Andrew Strauss was wrong in denying the South African skipper a runner. Yes, it is all about proper conditioning of the body, but still, it can be quite energy – sapping to bat 40+ overs.

I can understand ruthlesness, but there is something called the ‘Spirit of Cricket’. Yes, this has been a sticky point in many instances as it is hard to define what exactly this ‘Spirit’ is. Let me give you a simple definition:

The Spirit of Cricket is playing the game in a hard, yet fair way

It means that you play aggressive cricket, but play fair. I wouldn’t have recalled Mathews if I were Strauss. It was Mathews’ fault that he was ball – watching. There was no way Onions could have possibly seen him coming (he would have had to sprout eyes on the back of his head). However, Smith did nothing wrong and all player suffer cramps when playing for so long. It will become a sticky point when some of his own players, most notably Owais Shah (who does have a tendency to cramp quickly), suffer cramps and need runners.

On the subject of Powerplays, I’d like to refer to the first match of the competition, between Sri Lanka and South Africa.

The scenario is this: Dilshan is carting the ball around the park and the mandatory 10 over powerplay has finished. As the fielding captain, do you take the powerplay or not?

IMO, it should be a sure NO! The simple reason is, he’s obviously finding the boundaries easily because there aren’t enough fielders at the boundary. We all know that Dilshan doesn’t hit big like, say, a Morgan or a Symonds, but he hits them fast. Perhaps, the presence of more fielders on the boundary rope can stifle the runs and, perhaps, even get a wicket. I would’ve taken the Powerplay after Dilshan was dismissed.

SL also erred in not taking their powerplay immediately. It didn’t cost them in the end, but I feel that Sanga should’ve taken the powerplay immediately after SA’s one. It was clear that Dilshan wanted the pace in order to play his shots and Smith wasn’t willing to bring in the spinners during the powerplays, so we could’ve milked a lot more runs.

Well, that’s that! The CT has been an unqualified success in that it makes life difficult for a team when they have lost just once! It does bring me to the question which Mike Holmans raised in the Different Strokes blog in Cricinfo. Why do we hate the CT so much when the World Cup is such an elongated piece of shit?

CT FTW!

PS – Just saw that there’s been a mad jump in the number of unique visitors to this blog in the last 3 days…can anyone enlighten me why? 🙂


…..do the salsa on the bowler’s graveyard situated in Karachi!

My my, what a chance for Mahela to leave his imprint on the history of SL cricket! Now this is what you call ‘writing your own script’! He must’ve realised that he could cash in big in this test series because of the flat nature of pitches in Pakistan and the fact that they’re playing a test match after 14 months and, that too, under a new captain.

I was really hoping that they would be the first duo to both record triple tons in the same innings in test cricket (it would’ve been the 2nd instance in first-class cricket, after a Indian duo, which included Sanjay Manjrekar’s dad, Vijay, after nearly 50 years)..

Heck, they couldn’t get that, but they did break a 52 year old record for the most runs scored for the 4th wicket partnership, held by Peter May and Colin Cowdrey (most famously known for his initials, MCC) of 411, scored against WI @ Edgbaston.

They also scored the most runs for any wicket @ Karachi, and made the highest total.

You have to feel sorry for poor Sohail Khan. He’s been thrown into the worst situation that a debutant bowler could ever be in (remember Nilesh Kulkarni, who made his debut when SL scored 952 against India).

Yes, he’s leaked nearly 6.5 runs per over in 21 overs, but, come on, he’s just playing his first test. Karachi is no place to give a bowler, that too a young one, his maiden cap. It would be really great for his confidence if he is picked for the next test too because it would do a world of good for his confidence.

However, having seen Pakistan cricket politics, I highly doubt that will happen and perhaps Mohammad Talha (another uncapped youngster who was last seen sniggering in the dressing room watching Sohail bowling) would get a cap.

In other matters, it still continues to baffle me why a bowler who clearly has a problem with landing his front foot behind or on the line and bowling stray gets to play in the team.

However, with every match Dilhara is playing, I feel my confidence now bursting at the seams. Mr. Selector, I don’t bowl a single no-ball or wide, so perhaps you could pick me!