By Ranil Abeynaike
The past few months have been a tough grind for the Sri Lankan cricketers. A long tour of India comprising of three test matches, two T20 games and five ODI’s test all skills, mental toughness, fitness and the ability to maintain form. It is a challenge for even the most seasoned of players.
Then, after a few days break it was off to Bangladesh for the one day assignment. Once again, India was the main challenge. Quite naturally the work load took its toll. Muttiah Muralitharan, Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Thilan Thushara, Mahela Jayawardena, Muthumudalige Pushpakumara, T.M. Dilshan, all suffered some injury or illness at some point or the other, during these two months. The demand, mentally and physically is great when playing at the highest level and therefore the chance of breakdown is greater.
What it did was that more players got the opportunity to display their skills. Left arm paceman Chanaka Welegedara was the first to grab the opportunity. Brought in at the last moment when Thushara pulled out, in Ahmedabad – he tore into the Indian top order batting. Through both tours he kept coming back with impressive performances. Playing in the tests and one dayers was a great experience for him. The pitches both in India and Bangladesh didn’t offer much assistance t o the bowlers and that made it all the more valuable for Welegedara.
The other replacement to impress was Suraj Randiv. His entry has been sensational. From the very first game his bowling was top quality. The confidence with which he bowls is very heartening. Add to that he posseses a good measure of toughness and patience. Important ingredients to succeed as a bowler. He must now build on this excellent start that he has got off to. A successful future awaits Suraj Randiv.
Although he did not score in the last two outings Upul Tharanga made an impressive comeback, Very strong on the off side, the crisp, elegant strokes he plays has often been his downfall too. Self belief is what deserts a youngster when he goes through a bad run. Tharanga can get those doubts off his mind. He certainly belongs to the big league.
Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Thirimanne and Thisara Perera were elevated to National duty, without warning. They still require a lot of moulding, cutting and polishing to become regular, consistent performers. They have had an unexpected taste of playing with and against quality opposition.
In this end, it was a satisfying ending. Congratulations to Kumar Sangakkara, the team and the team management. They went through very tough times, did not quit and were desperate for success. They have returned home, having had a great start to 2010, with the Idea Cup in their possession. Having to replace many due to injury and lack of form was a blessing in disguise!