The Sunday Leader

Day of destiny for Lankan cricket

  • ICC World T20 Final – Preview

By Dion Michael

The day of destiny for Sri Lankan cricket has arrived. Ever since that balmy St Patrick’s day in Lahore in 1996 when we reached the pinnacle as World One-day Champions, Sri Lankans have dreamt of a reprise and lived through five other finals and each time endured the heartache of having fallen just short and having to be content with the ‘bridesmaid’ tag.

Today however there is even greater expectations on the team because the game marks the end of the T20 careers of former skippers Mahela Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakkara who have both indicated that they would be retiring from the shortest format of the game after this tournament.

Jayawardena and Sangakkara have been the flag-bearers of Sri Lankan cricket over the last 15 years and have literally carried the hopes and dreams of everyone in this cricket-crazy nation during this time. The duo are today among the most gifted cricketers in the world and certainly among the best readers of the game today.

No other pair of cricketers have contributed so much both to their country and to the sport at international level.

Both technically sound batsmen, Jayawardena and Sangakkara at first seemed ‘unsuitable’ for the slam-bang unorthodoxy of the T20 format. However to their eternal credit both batsmen reinvented themselves and also proved that there was space for the purists of the game and that one could make an impact in the T20 format whilst still playing good cricket shots and relying on timing and placements – an art in which both were well accomplished.

Today will be the sixth final that Jayawardena and Sangakkara will be playing together and it is still mind boggling to understand why they have not been able to finish on the winning side.

On paper there is little to choose between today’s finalists. India has remained unbeaten throughout the tournament whilst Sri Lanka were beaten by England in a high scoring game. Ironically that defeat has spurred the Sri Lankans to show more fight and character and also forced some team changes which have worked well for them.

Both sides know each other well and will no doubt have worked out elaborate strategies for each opposing batsman and bowler.

Both teams have strong batting line ups which can tear apart any attack when on song. Sri Lanka may have the slight edge in the bowling with their varied attack and the fact that their bowlers seemed to have struck form at the right time.

Young opener Kusal Perera will be a key factor because of his ability to attack from the first ball and when he gets runs he does so in double quick time giving his side an electric start and the early impetus he gives the innings allows the other batsmen to settle in.

All eyes will no doubt be on the two retiring veterans and Jayawardena and Sangakkara will want to make an impression in their last T20 outing.

Tillekeratne Dilshan is slowly coming back to form although with Kusal Perera blazing away at the other end he has opted to be more of the anchor and looks to bat through the innings now.

Angelo Mathews has been in the form of his life and is demonstrating his talent and reading of the game and has been a vital contributor with bat and ball.

One of the most pleasing aspects of the team has been the performances of the younger set who have grabbed every opportunity offered and the selectors have the welcome luxury of deciding which one to leave out.

Sachithra Senanayake appears to have sealed his place and leg-spinner Seekuge Prasanna did his chances no harm with a tidy performance against the West Indies. All rounder Thisara Perera had to miss out the last game but might be in contention with his record against India.

Lasith Malinga has rediscovered himself and seems to be enjoying the role of captain and his bowling is right back at its best.

A par score is about 175 and if Sri Lanka can put runs on the board they ought to be able to defend such a total. Of course they need a couple of early wickets and one of them must be Virat Kohli who is in ominous form and has always been the thorn in Sri Lanka’s flesh.

Is today going to be a watershed in Sri Lanka’s cricket history and will two of the greatest servants of Sri Lanka cricket get the perfect T20 farewell?

 

3 Comments for “Day of destiny for Lankan cricket”

  1. S Tissera

    The most important factor in winning against India is match fixing, which is their specialty, Umpires and players are all caught in this web because of the IPL money. . Further Political pressure too is a tool. If we can safeguard our players from these and also if our commentators are more aggressive towards wrong umpire decisions we can easily overcome India as we did at the Asia Cup and also the Warm-up in Dhaka. It is plainly seen that India is scarred, they know that their 1200 Ml people cannot in a fair fight take on a team from small Sri Lanka with a mere 20 ML people.

    All the best Sri Lanka, we are praying and rooting for you.

  2. RagBag

    Is today going to be a watershed in Sri Lanka’s cricket history?

    Yes!

    India will win the T-20 world championship for the second time, unfortunately.

    The watershed is that the heartbreak will continue, SL cricket will bear it with fortitude. This will add spine to its attack, and iron to its batting. it will spur the fielding to become super vigorous and athletic!

    But, sadly, this will be India’s day today.

    You are expecting the BEST batsmen in the world to lie down? Do you think 175 in 20 is enough?

    Not happening!

    175 will be chicken feed for India if they chase, and it is far more likely that the number will be 40 or so less than 175!

    And if India bat, you are going to see the back end of 220!

    Dream on, Sri Lanka – that is your birth right!

    But the championship? That is for India!

  3. Eng. M.V.R.Perera

    Without Ajantha Mendis in the playing eleven the chances of Sri lanka defeating India is very little A M was the No 4 ICC ranked 20/20 bowler after the defeat from England and was greatly instrumental in Sri Lanka having a very high economy rate which made us come first in our group for some unknown reason he was dropped in the match against New Zealand when the team and the pitch conditions suited his type of bowling he was also dropped against the West Indies when the team and the pitch conditions suited his type of bowling for in the finals of the 2012 world cup 20/20 he took 5 wickets and limited the West Indies score to 139. although lasith Malinga went for 55 runs and in that series he took 15 wickets. In 2014 Asia Cup AM took 4 wickets and defeated India for the Finals against Pakistan A M for some unknown reason was dropped and we won the match with great dificulty excepting for Malinga non of the other bowlers took a wicket

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