Asia Cup Lasith Malinga

Published on September 2nd, 2018 | by Rohit Sankar

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Sri Lanka opt for experience in Asia Cup squad in a bid to salvage their ODI fortunes

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Sri Lanka are determined to change their fortunes in ODIs…..

Sri Lanka’s dismal ODI fortunes have prompted them to opt for experience in their Asia Cup squad. With 10 wins in their last 39 ODIs, Sri Lanka have gone from poor to worse to worst in two years. They have won just one ODI series (a bilateral involving Bangladesh and Zimbabwe as other teams) since 2017. They have lost seven series’ in this time frame and drawn one (against Bangladesh).

With expectations at ground-level, Sri Lanka needed a refreshing approach and while the appointment of Chandika Hathurusinga as head coach has gone some way in setting things right, they needed some experience in the side. This was attended to in the Asia Cup squad with veteran seamer, Lasith Malinga, recalled to the setup. They have also added Dilruwan Perera in the side after his promising show against South Africa at home.

Squad: Angelo Mathews (capt), Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Upul Tharanga, Dinesh Chandimal, Danushka Gunathilaka, Thisara Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Dhanajaya De Silva, Akila Dhananjaya, Dilruwan Perera, Amila Aponso, Kasun Rajitha, Suranga Lakmal, Dusmantha Chameera, Lasith Malinga.

Have the selectors covered all bases in what could be a major indication of how their World Cup squad shapes up?

Balance of the side

Lankans have balanced their side reasonably well with six front-line batsmen (including Angelo  Mathews), three all-rounders (two pace bowling all-rounder and one spin bowling all-rounder), four out and out seamers and two spinners. The recently found oomph in the pace department is further bolstered by the return of experienced seamer, Lasith Malinga.

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Add in the all-round options and two formidable spinners and Lanka have enough strength bowling-wise. Akila Dananjaya is still a bit of an unknown and the mystery factor could work in favour of the Lankans.

Bowling is Lanka’s strength

There is little doubt that bowling is Sri Lanka’s strength. The pace department, led by Suranga Lakmal, and strongly supported by Lasith Malinga, Kasun Rajitha and the returning Dushmantha Chameera has the potential to devour teams on their day.

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Add in Thisara Perera’s new-found penetration and the pack of seam bowling wolves pack quite a punch. Rajitha, who impressed in the Windies with his extra zip and bounce, would possibly contest with Chameera for a place in the eleven.  

The spin department is headed by Dilruwan Perera and has Akila Dananjaya and Amila Aponso. Perera returns to the ODI side after a while and his all-round capabilities should place Sri Lanka in good stead.

The green tick choices

Lasith Malinga’s return is a welcome move ahead of the World Cup. Despite his lacklustre display the last time he made a return, Malinga’s recent form is encouraging. His experience will serve Sri Lanka well in these tough times. Though rumours of his recall were strife, the eventual return should see him get enough game time.

Dasun Shanaka’s strong performances in recent times have served him well. Shanaka was impressive against the Proteas and gets another chance to justify his place in the side. Shehan Jayasuriya was aptly dropped after the selectors ran out of patience.

The strange choices

Niroshan Dickwella’s run of form wasn’t exactly confidence-boosting but the wicket-keeper batsman is a passionate figure in the Lankan ODI side. His absence gives Kusal Perera another chance at the top of the order, but this time around the onus is on him to justify his selection over Dickwella. He had racked up scores of 2, 69, 10, 34 and 43 against South Africa.

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Danushka Gunathilaka returns to the side and his return possibly paved the way out for Dickwella. His performances in the domestic competition swayed the selectors his way but with Dickwella out of the side, Gunathilaka’s inclusion is a bit of a mystery.  

Final verdict

Balance-wise Sri Lanka have a decent team and the inclusion of Malinga, Shanaka and Dilruwan Perera is welcome. That said, the glaring omission of Niroshan Dickwella is a black mark. It also puts additional pressure on Kusal Perera to find big runs at the top of the order.

The Asia Cup is Sri Lanka’s first step towards the World Cup and they need it to be a strong one after a dreadful last few months. With a shrewd Hathurusinga at the helm, Sri Lanka should be in with a chance to challenge for a title.

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About the Author

mm

A cricket enthusiast striving to convey the finer details of the game in a capsule. I hope to present a bird's eye view of the game as I see it to the readers. PS: I am smitten by the likes of ABD but crush on pace bowlers who can make the ball talk.



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