In an 8-wicket smarting at the hands of South Africa in the opening ODI, young batting spark Kusal Mendis riding back to form on a top score of 62 piercing the boundary line on ten occasions was the only consolation for the relative young Sri Lankan team.
Given the strong odds Upul Tharanga’s Sri Lankans were pitted against of a strong batting pedigree of tried and tested frontline of the likes of run machines like A.B. de Villiers and Hashim Amla and Quintin de Kock and F. du Plessis, it was always a tough call for the visitors; what is more with their skipper Angelo Mathews out of action. That Sri Lanka went in with a debutant in 23-year old Dharshanapriya Sandun Weerakkody, a product of Dharmaraja College, Kandy, with a fair first class record of 2126 runs from 36 matches, reflected the difference between the two sides. The left hander of course, did not come good pairing upfront with Niroshan Dickwella, on his debut as Sri Lanka made 181 in 48.3 overs. Neither did the latter reproduce the half century match winning form that carried Sri Lanka home to the T20 series win. South Africa, in their turn, coasting to their target in emphatic brazen style in 34.2 overs with F Du Pldssis and De Villiers reigning in with unfinished scores of 55 and 30 respectively after top scorer Amla (57) and De Kock (34) had posted 71 for the first wicket, did underline the contrasting difference between the two sides. South Africa, clinically highly professional; Sri Lanka comparatively on a rebuilding curve of fresher laden starry eyed lads entrusted with the torch bearer young generation chore.
Therein, in an uphill journey braving the strong odds, which is a negotiating process any cricket playing nation undergoes when the base making veterans quit the game, indeed, it was quite pleasing seeing Mendis once again come in to his own from a bad patch. The youngster’s knock in the pivotal No.3 position that he was rightfully reverted back to in this game, that did underscore to the Sri Lankan establishment that it did have the stuff to go the long journey on the high road of extremely testing cricket where no quarters are given nor taken. Mendis did as usual underline his penchant to go after the bowlers, and that he did succeed, but not to the extreme lengths of giving his side the type of impetus of a commanding total did reflect the need for patience; a trait that the future star on which local cricket fans have switched their gaze to which would understandably come with more exposure in the mill. Dinesh Chandimal’s 22, Dhananjaya De Silva’s 28 were the other best scores with the only veteran in the side skipper Upul Tharanga, at No. 5 falling cheaply.
By Srian Obeyesekere
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-