The absence of Angelo Mathews and Kusal Janith Perera was badly felt in Sri Lanka’s 90-run loss to Bangladesh in the first ODI in Dambulla. Sri Lanka clearly lacked a play-maker batsman to carry the innings. In this context, it is relevant recalling past game plan’s on which Sri Lanka’s ODI cricket thrived.
Marvan Atapattu was one of the best batsmen in carrying an innings to the end which is an important aspect Sri Lanka laid emphasis one time. There were also Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara who fitted to that role of innings building. With regular captain on an injury limbo, Kusal Janith Perera has been the closest to coming good as a lynch pin batsman, but not to the level of an Atapattu, Jayawardene or Sangakkara, who were well steeled in phasing out an innings. Perera, has proved effective in a different approach as a basher of the ball. Sri Lanka must certainly have missed the cameo presence of the basher in a game that significantly saw Bangladesh underline a marked difference of durability between the two sides. Their 324 for 5 wickets did tell the story that Bangladesh has emerged as a professional side. If Tamim Iqbal, who is a batsman likable to be watched for the vibrancy he packs in his stroke play that he has evidently fine tuned to match winning heights, the side’s batting depth was well demonstrated by the fact that Bangladesh set up such an imposing target for Sri Lanka to chase for the loss of just five wickets. No. 3 Sabbir Rahman 54, No.5 batsman Shakib Al Hasan 72 showcased that much of team muscle in the batting department.
The saddening factor by the outcome as Sri Lanka was bowled out for 234 in 45.1 overs was that for once Bangladesh had unleashed the brand of cricket that superseded Sri Lanka in breaking through from the shackles of having been overshadowed by their rival neighbours in the past. From a Bangladsh point of view, it was euphoric to the sub continent nation’s instant cricketing crusade. In many ways double edged by the historic Test win over Sri Lanka in their centenary match.
From a Sri Lankan point of view, it is lamentable as to why the young batsman Sandun Weerakkody, who displayed the ability to bat through and innings by his half century in the final ODI against South Africa, and as much top scored with 67 for the Board XI in the trial game against Bangladesh, was overlooked. Also the absence of Dhananjaya de Silva, who had been shaping up well as a new find, and who did play a composed knock of 40 odd in the trial game, continued to be overlooked. Also, the overlooking of the inform spin cum utility player Malinda Pushpakumara, who has had a staggering wicket taking record at domestic and A level, is ponderable.
In the case of Weerakkody, he has shown endurance qualities of holding an innings together with a penchant to carry the attack to the bowler. At Dambulla, what Sri Lanka lacked was an innings of inspiration to take it down to the wire.
By Srian Obeyeskere
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-
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