Lankan ODI woes continue with World Cup fast approaching | Daily News
Review of Series:

Lankan ODI woes continue with World Cup fast approaching

Thisara Perera was Sri Lanka’s leading run-getter.
Thisara Perera was Sri Lanka’s leading run-getter.

A 3-0 drubbing at the hands of New Zealand was not what Sri Lanka would have wanted to kick-start their World Cup campaign, but the cold hard fact is that the result revealed there certainly are some grey areas especially in the middle-order batting and the bowling in the middle overs that needs to be rectified quickly if they are to make any kind of impact on the world stage five months from now.

Sri Lanka has only five more ODIs in South Africa to get their act together. They will have to make-do with the squad that played in the New Zealand series because they are the best we have in this format of the game.

There were moments of brilliance by the Lankans especially in the batting when the openers Niroshan Dickwella and Danushka Gunathilaka and Dhananjaya de Silva (in the third ODI) gave them good starts and in the late order where Thisara Perera’s marvelous batting kept them in the game. But in between where Sri Lanka faltered was in their middle order that has been a total failure. The margins of defeat in the first two ODIs by 45 runs and by 21 runs could have been turned in Sri Lanka’s favour had the middle order contributed. Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal and Asela Gunaratne have been the notable failures their total contribution being a mere 68 runs.

The stand out players for Sri Lanka were Thisara Perera and Kusal Perera who each managed a hundred. Gunathilaka and Dickwella also made runs but when you are chasing targets beyond 300 plus half-centuries are not going to get you there.

In addition to their batting woes Sri Lanka’s bowling was exposed to the hilt by the free-scoring New Zealand batters who hit three centuries and six fifties and went beyond the 300plus total in each of the three matches.

The pitches were flat favouring batsmen like they will get for the World Cup in England and on such surfaces Sri Lanka’s bowling was found to be wanting. Lasith Malinga handed the ODI captaincy managed to affect the initial breakthroughs for his team, but the back-up bowlers were not upto the mark and when he returned to bowl at the death the batsmen were well set and took him to task.

Where Sri Lanka’s weakness in the bowling lay was in the middle overs where they failed to take wickets and break partnerships that allowed the Black Caps to launch an assault in the final ten overs which yielded 126, 97 and 130 runs in the three ODIs.

In that context New Zealand leg-spinner spinner Ish Sodhi proved very effective to finish with the most number of wickets by a bowler in the series – 8 wickets at 18.40 compared to Sri Lanka’s spinner Lakshan Sandakan who managed only a solitary wicket conceding 174 runs although he had the best economy rate of 5.8. If the Lankan bowlers are going to concede totals of 371, 319 and 364 to the opposition then their batsmen too should be ready to take up the challenge and chase down those targets.

The only redeeming factor was that Sri Lanka began 2019 with two batsmen scoring hundreds compared to 2018 where there was none. Angelo Mathews’ 97 not out was the highest of the 17 ODIs played during the year. What the New Zealand series has revealed is that Sri Lanka have a lot of homework to do and time is not on their side as they have only the ODI series in South Africa to rectify their shortcomings before heading for the World Cup.

At this moment of time Sri Lanka don’t look like a side that is going to win any matches unless there is a dramatic turn of fortunes. They have not won a bilateral ODI series since 2016 when they beat Ireland 2-0.

As for the Black Caps they seem to have every department of theirs sorted out and are playing like a well-oiled machine with hardly any chinks showing in their armour.


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