“The track aided the bowlers with bounce and pace but it was not totally difficult to bat on and it was Sri Lanka’s miserable batting that took slapped the islanders with the loss by 10 wicket”
In the last few months, the English pitches offered assistance to batsmen. Several 350-400 totals were witnessed, giving an impression that the same could repeat during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, which was scheduled to be played in England.
However, with four matches into the marquee tournament, it has been clear that the pitches have some inclination towards the pacers, a rare sight in the current scenario of cricket. Three Asian sides have fallen to the pace and bounce in three days in the ongoing World Cup. First, Pakistan were bamboozled by the West Indian pace attack before Sri Lankan batsmen were owned by the Kiwis at the Sophia Gardens,Cardiff on Sunday.
When Kiwi captain Kane Williamson won the toss, he knew it was a great toss to win as the pitch was a green track and without thinking twice, Williamson put Sri Lanka to bat first. The track aided the bowlers with bounce and pace but it was not totally difficult to bat on and it was Sri Lanka’s miserable batting that took slapped the islanders with the loss by 10 wicket. The manner in which New Zealand openers Martin Guptill and Colin Munro chased down the total with ease exposed Sri Lanka’s mistakes even further.
After the horrific Easter attack in Sri Lanka last month, the island nation would have hoped for some joy with a win in their World Cup opener, but, the fans were left disappointed as their batsmen threw away their wicket one after the another. Only their skipper Dimuth Karunaratne played with some pride as he became just the 12th cricketer and second Sri Lankan to carry his bat in an ODI. While the other Lankan batsmen struggled to play on the backfoot, Karunaratne, who last played an ODI four years back during the World Cup 2015, scored a fighting half-century and became just the second batsman after Ridley Jacobs to carry his bat in a World Cup game.
Sri Lanka have been the second worst side since the last World Cup in terms of winning ODI series after West Indies. Sri Lanka, nevertheless, have lost the most number of wickets in the Powerplay and the Men in Dark Blue just continued their infamous trend. While they would have been instructed to not lose wickets in the Powerplay so that the middle-order men can capitalise on the start later in the innings, Lankans lost as many as three wickets inside 10 overs and they never recovered from those early blows.
Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson derailed the Sri Lankan line-up. Henry made the first three breakthroughs as he dismissed Lahiru Thirimanne (4), Kusal Perera (29) and Kusal Mendis and that left Sri Lanka struggling at 46 for 3. Three overs later, Ferguson trapped Dhananjaya de Silva leg before wicket before Colin de Grandhomme removed Angelo Matthews for a nine-ball duck. The Sri Lankan batsmen failed to show patience and temperament on a testing track and their failure aided the BlackCaps’ bowlers, wh0o continued to destroy their opponents as Sri Lanka were bundled out for a mere 136 inside 30 overs.
Karunaratne played sensible innings and all he needed was some support from his other men. He is well aware of the fact that his side is not being considered as contenders for the title. They are ranked ninth and have suffered a terrible ODI record ever since the veterans Sangakkara and Jayawardene retired four years back. However, his win in the Test series in South Africa said something about the side and Karunaratne as captain.
“Everyone came here to see a good match. They came from far away, spending their money. We needed to give them a good match. Losing is one thing, but we need to fight for the sake of the spectators. If you only make 130-odd, that’s not a match. Personally, a lot of people had wished as well and urged us to do well in this first match. Everyone was looking forward to this game, and to playing well. If we had fought and made a good fist of this game and then lost, it wouldn’t have been so hard to swallow,” a disappointed Karunaratne said after the 10-wicket loss. The skipper also mentioned that the side is not bad and they are certainly capable of winning matches.
The batsmen these days are under major influence of T20 cricket and they are always thinking of short cuts of scoring easy runs. Instead of this approach, their senior batsmen like Matthews and Mendis must shoulder responsibility and not throw away their wickets in a haste. In addition to this, the bowling department also have a lot of work to do. They failed to push the Kiwis on defensive mode. The bowlers need to make use of the conditions and have specific plans for the opponent batsmen in order to stop the side from scoring big.