The sky high hype for world cup selections has left the national selectors with the taxing task of penciling out the best mix following the completion of the Super Provincial Tournament that was looked to by the Sri Lanka Cricket think tanks as the final platform to earmark the contenders for the ICC’s 2019 showpiece event.
On the batting front, veteran Angelo Mathews carrying loads of captaincy experience in the limited overs and Test cricket came good with the bat with consistent scores of 101, 78 and 47 while Dhananjaya de Silva powered his way to top contention with the most impressive all-round performance striking 89, 34 and 32 and a match haul of 3 for 57. Similarly, good batting performances by Test openers Dimuth Karunaratne of 86, 44 and 35 and Lahiru Thirimanne of 115 and 82 with the latter bludgeoning his way to top form in the final, were compelling stuff for recognition in the wake of the regular frontline ODI openers failing to impress with the bat. To the credit of Dinesh Chandimal were his scores of 32 and 42 in the two innings he batted with bad weather depriving Colombo from batting in the two matches against Galle.
Meanwhile, while Shehan Jayasuriya notched the first century of the tournament, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, by his aggressive 95 in the wake of scores of 38 and 27 having shared in a rollicking 150-run fifth wicket alliance with Angelo Mathews, has strongly nudged the selectors for a call up. The 27-year old left hand former Royal College batting sensation, who has self admittedly modeled his batting after Adam Gilchrist, could just be the right ointment to Sri Lanka reviving its ODI image. He has a sound ODI record as a Sri Lanka Under-19 player with a marathon 154 off 111 balls against Australia in a one-dayer to go with a pleasing first class aggregate of 3123 runs from 65 matches with a highest of 268 and 34 wickets. For Sri Lanka A he has a run tally of 2667 runs with a highest of 107 from 96 innings. There was also Jeevan Mendis who belied age in displaying he was worthy all-round potential clobbering a breezy 50 in the wake of 23 and 3 for 57 and 2 for 47 while pace bowler Isuru Udana’s 34 off just 14 balls showcased himself as a handy utility player. Milinda Siriwardana matde 65 and 32 in two outings.
In the overall bowling, strike bowler Lasith Malinga with 7 for 49 was outstanding followed by next best hauls of 5 for 53 by off spinner Akila Dananjaya, Thisara Perera 4 for 25, Dushmantha Chameera 3 for 27 and Suranga Lakmal 3 for 29.
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-