Sri Lanka’s inconsistent show is becoming a matter of frustration for world cricket….
After a disheartening campaign against Bangladesh, Sri Lanka had their hopes pinned to their do-or-die encounter against Afghanistan. They needed a win at any cost to survive in the tournament; this side is seeking redemption and their most loyal fans would have thought that this could be the ideal platform for their revival of fortunes, but it wasn’t to be. Afghanistan ended Sri Lanka’s journey in the Asia Cup with an emphatic win on Monday. The island nation hardly posed a threat, which was clearly evident in their spineless display. Sri Lanka have been knocked out of the tournament before it has even begun. This languishing side is only hitting one low after the other and need some serious assessment. It’s not for the lack of efforts, but Sri Lanka have just failed consistently to click as a unit and the form of their key players are constantly on a decline.
Prior to the start of the series, not many would have expected such a dismal performance from Sri Lanka. They backed some experienced players for the big league, but the failure of their batting cost them dearly. They failed to cross the 160-run mark in both the games against not so threatening bowling attacks, which is atrocious at this level. Their batting needs to undergo some serious repair work, if Sri Lanka are eyeing to rise from here on.
Sri Lanka are one of the giants when it comes to Asia Cup; they have won the title five times, but their early departure has only stunned everyone. Skipper Angelo Mathews spoke about his side’s poor show and was quoted in a report from ICC-cricket.com saying, “This was shocking from the whole team,” said Mathews after the match. “Even in the first game, we got all out for 150-odd. Congratulations to Afghanistan as they outplayed us. We got a good start [0/1 but then 54/1] but again lost our way in the middle overs. The bowlers did well, the fielding had also improved from the last match. It’s just the batting unit that let us down.”
“We played better cricket in the later parts of the South Africa series. Just disappointing to see the way the boys went about it. We couldn’t handle pressure. Not passing 150 on both occasions is very shocking and disappointing,” Mathews added.
Against Bangladesh and Afghanistan
Sri Lanka started off well against Bangladesh with Lasith Malinga rekindling his magical bowling. Their bowlers did a wonderful job, but Mushfiqur Rahim stood out with a match-winning century. Despite his heroics, the target wasn’t a difficult one for the Islanders to chase it down. The fact that, their batting stumbled like nine pins and were folded for 124 inside 36 overs was discouraging. Their bowlers were impactful, but batting let them down.
In comparison, Afghanistan had a relatively better bowling attack than Bangladesh. This was a do-or-die situation for Sri Lanka, and their bowlers restricted Afghanistan to 249. Sri Lanka started off slightly better this time and looked on course till the 13th over. The 14th oversaw a run-out after which, the wickets kept tumbling at regular intervals eventually losing the game by 91 runs.
Since the start of 2017, Sri Lanka have only won 10 out of 41 ODIs they played in the said period. Losing 30 ODIs in such a span is not something Sri Lanka are known for. Not very long ago, this team used to send shivers down the opponents’ spine, but those days are sporadic with the current Sri Lankan side. They have sprung surprises in the recent times – beat India in the Champions Trophy 2017, made a magnificent comeback in the ODI series against South Africa, but there is no consistency at all.
Although their Test records are relatively better than ODIs, but the side does need some firepower there too. An early exit simply means a lot of players will come under the scanner; it will be interesting to see what kind of changes Sri Lanka would undergo. A lot of questions are being raised on coach Chandika Haturusingha, but one should always remember, a coach is as good as his team. As of now, this is just another fall back for Sri Lankan cricket, but a team’s true character is tested when the chips are down. Things can’t get worse than this, with World Cup being few months away, can Sri Lanka bounce back? Their next assignment would be against England and it will be interesting to see how the team shape up from this juncture.