Lanka’s chance to redeem themselves | Daily News

Lanka’s chance to redeem themselves

Sri Lanka’s next three series ahead of the 2019 Cricket World Cup will give the team a chance to redeem itself from the depths its cricket has fallen into.

One thing in favour of the Lankan cricketers is that they will be playing all their matches away from home and thereby the pressure of playing on home soil and the high expectations that comes with it will not be there. They can freely concentrate on their job at hand and lift their playing levels to a point that they could be competitive enough to produce some wins which these days have become few and far between.

The 3-0 whitewash they suffered at home at the hands of England in their last Test series was a bitter pill to swallow, and now what Sri Lanka are left with is to try and compensate for those losses by winning in New Zealand which is going to be their first port of call before moving onto Australia and then South Africa.

These are not easy tours and the Lankan batsmen and bowlers are going to be tested to the maximum if they are to achieve their objective of winning.

Sri Lanka’s last tour to New Zealand in December 2015 ended in a 2-0 defeat where they lost the two Tests played at Dunedin and Hamilton. They were mowed down by New Zealand’s pace quartet of Boult, Southee, Bracewell and Wagner who exposed the batsmen’s weakness to counter swing more than seam.

If Lanka has learnt their lessons well from that tour they should be ready with some answers on how to counter these bowlers this time around in the two Tests scheduled at Wellington and Christchurch.

Dimuth Karunaratne, the newly appointed vice-captain, Kusal Mendis, skipper Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews all of whom form the core of the Lankan batting were all members of the side that toured New Zealand three years ago.

New Zealand would also keep in mind the Lankan batsmen’s weakness against spin especially in the recent series at home against England where the majority of wickets were taken by left-arm spinner Jack Leach. The Black Caps have in their line-up left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner who can prove to be an ideal foil to the seamers with his accurate deliveries that could prevent the Lankan batsmen from cashing in on him lest they are tied down by the quicks.

Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera and Nuwan Pradeep all played in the lasts series in New Zealand and should know how to adapt to the conditions and the wickets well. On the last occasion they were guilty of bowling too short in their effort to try and find swing and were taken to the cleaners by Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, Brendon McCullum and Tom Latham.

Sri Lanka’s record in New Zealand is not a healthy one - two wins and 10 losses in 17 attempts since 1983 which places them ahead of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe who have fared worse.

Sri Lanka can take heart from the fact that their last two overseas tours have seen them beat Bangladesh 1-0 (2 Tests) and draw the three-Test series one-all against West Indies in the Caribbean.

What the Lankan side needs is consistency in their performances which they have not been able to maintain in the past two years or so. The current crop of cricketers is the best the country can put out and they have been around for quite awhile to start producing those victories on a constant basis.

While Test cricket has to be given priority over the other two formats, all countries including Sri Lanka will also have an eye on getting the combination of their one-day sides right with the 2019 World Cup in England fast approaching.

Sri Lanka has no ODIs scheduled in Australia where they are billed to play only two Tests which leaves them with only three ODIs in New Zealand and five in South Africa in March to come up with a suitable combination that could be successful in England.

Although Sri Lanka has more or less been able to hold their own in the longer version, their ODI performances has rapidly sunk to the extent that they have remained stagnant at no.8 in the rankings for more than a year.

They have not won a bilateral ODI series since beating Ireland in 2016, a performance that summarises their decline in fifty-over cricket of which they were once masters and had other nations trying to follow and copy them.

Fielding has been a core issue in these losses and unless that is fixed they will continue to struggle as an ODI side.


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