Zimbabwe overcame the threat of Thisara Perera and scripted a thrilling victory against Sri Lanka. Yet again, the Lankan Lions were defeated by the boys from Zimbabwe and the Islanders need to realise the importance of a positive mindset and discipline in upcoming matches.
Over the last couple of years, the going has been tough for Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan cricket fraternity witnessed the departure of two of the most gifted cricketers to leave the stage. The retirement of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara triggered a transition period which, day by day, is taking ugly turns to instil frustrations not only among the Lankan fans but neutral fans as well, because, Sri Lanka are one of those teams who’re equally loved and adored by all like the West Indies.
The last year was an absolute nightmarish journey for the Islanders who could hardly register anything satisfactory to overcome the ugly transition period. The defeat against Zimbabwe in the ODI series was one of the lowest points in the history of Sri Lankan cricket and the heavy defeats against India at home and away only dented the psychology and inflicted wounds after wounds in each match. Yes, it’s always tough to stabilise things during any transition periods, but if the period only prolongs with the passage of time, it requires drastic but constructive measures to bounce back.
The Sri Lankan Cricket Board realised the importance of taking productive measures and thus, appointed the ex-head-coach of Tigers, Chandika Hathurusingha, who surprisingly resigned last year and then, last week, the reappointment of Angelo Mathews hinted, the return of Sri Lanka’s heydays are not so far.
But after the second match of ongoing Tri-series in Bangladesh, the optimism of the fans was mocking them.
A thriller! Zimbabwe hold their nerve to beat Sri Lanka by 12 runs and win Match 2 of the Tri Series.https://t.co/baLHqKsgN6 #SLvZIM pic.twitter.com/TQh2QobNhV
— ICC (@ICC) January 17, 2018
Sri Lanka’s first encounter was against Zimbabwe, the team which triggered shockwaves across the island last year, and the ideal belief among the fans was, their team would not digest a defeat against the lower-ranked team anymore. But sadly, Zimbabwe proved to be the more confident unit against Sri Lanka yet again and the “band of boys” hung on to an absolute cliff-hanger at Mirpur to register their first win of the series.
It was a different Zimbabwe. While they were left reeling against the hosts, they changed colours in a dramatic fashion against Sri Lanka and played with a lot more intent. They took the attack to the Lankan bowlers and scored runs at will and while bowling, when Thisara Perera posed a big threat of pulling the match out of the fire, they did not lose heart but maintained the composure to outweigh the Lankans and bag a thrilling victory.
Sri Lanka lacked discipline
While Zimbabwe celebrated under the lights at Mirpur, Sri Lanka were left pondering about what might have been had they showed more intent and exhibited discipline with the bat and ball. I felt, the Lankans were not yet out of the nightmare of last year and the horrendous results are still looming large in the minds of Lankan players which is hampering them from displaying the positive attitude.
With the ball, The Lankan pacers and spinners were at bay when Hamilton Masakadza and Solomon took the attack the cleaners in first power-play. Their length was on the shortish side and half-volleys cropped up regularly while the line was more on the leg side and in the age of power-hitting, such sort of bowling display is sure to be treated mercilessly.
Zimbabwe kept on scripting partnerships, but clearly, the Lankan bowlers lacked the cutting edge to put them on the backfoot. Boundaries came thick and fast and so did the singles and couples manoeuvring the strike was easier as the likes of Sikandar Raza could find the gaps at ease, which also indicates, Angelo’s field setting was a tad defensive. Neither a defensive field can fetch wickets nor can they stop the flow of runs and moreover, they allow a batting unit to settle easily.
#SLvZIM – FIFTY! @SRazaB24 with a run-a-ball 50! And that's his second in this series and 10th in his 72nd ODI! Absolutely awesome, Raz! #TriSeries pic.twitter.com/RQknIsXkyR
— Zimbabwe Cricket (@ZimCricketv) January 17, 2018
Be it in a Test or 50-over format, you need to contain from one end and attack from other, but again, your bowlers need to have the cutting edge and that’s where Lanka failed to cash in yesterday. Perhaps, Anglo had no choice but to look for containment as his bowlers were not disciplined enough.
Zimbabwe posted a huge total and Sri Lanka’s reply should have been all about controlled aggression and productive partnerships. While Kusal Perera, the clone of Sanath Jayasuriya as they say, kept on slicing the attack from end, at the other end, wickets kept on falling at regular intervals.
Whilst seeing @OfficialSLC lose is disappointing, one an take heart of the all round effort of @PereraThisara . Absolutely super with bat and ball showing the maturity and class we know he has. Well played Kusal Janith Perera too. 2 good efforts in a losing cause.
— Roshan Abeysinghe (@RoshanCricket) January 17, 2018
Sri Lanka’s dismissals had been the story of selecting poor shots rather than brilliant bowling. Until Thisara unleashed a havoc, Sri Lanka’s chase was not in the right direction at all. Thisara’s aggressive knock took Sri Lanka close to winning, but when 15 runs were needed from 18 balls, discipline was the order of the day again for tail-enders who could bat, but the Lankan Lions were tamed by Zimbabwe.
Don’t write off Sri Lanka
It’s too early to write off Sri Lanka. A defeat against one of the lower-ranked teams hurts, but one must give credit to the opposition for their efforts and learn from the mistakes. Chandika Hathurusingha needs to polish the mental aspect of this Lankan unit and instill self-belief like he did in case of Bangladesh in 2015. Chandika has the talent to bring back Sri Lanka on the right track, but for that, he needs to make his men realise the importance of a positive and aggressive mindset and discipline.