ODI team needs a Durban miracle to uplift it | Daily News


ODI team needs a Durban miracle to uplift it

It seems that Sri Lanka’s flagging fortunes in one-day international cricket can only be resurrected by a miracle like the one that took place at Durban in the first cricket Test against South Africa where from nowhere they produced a champion who bolstered the confidence of the team sky high with an epic innings that brought victory from the jaws of defeat and made the players believe that they were not easy beats after all as they were made out to be.

Kusal Perera was the hero on that day along with last man Vishwa Fernando who withstood the onslaught of the feared South African pace trio of Rabada, Steyn, Philander and Olivier to fashion out a win that has gone down in the history books as one of the greatest this wonderful game of cricket has ever witnessed.

That win inspired the team to come hard at the South Africans in the second Test at Port Elizabeth and beat them all and sundry to claim a famous 2-0 series victory which no other Asian team had achieved in this rainbow nation.

What the one-day side needs at the moment is a similar shot in the arm and someone has to put his hand up and play an innings that can bring a long yearning victory to the team and inject some life into the rest of the players that they are a good one-day side that can beat even the best on their day.

Sri Lanka has only to take a leaf out of the West Indies notebook and see how this once great nation that has sunk to the depths of despair in cricket is once again showing signs of rising to its former glory under the inspired leadership of all-rounder Jason Holder.

West Indies had to come through a qualifying round to play in the upcoming World Cup in England and they not only did so successfully but have taken everyone by surprise by giving the current number one ranked one-day side England a good run in the five-match ODI series by sharing it 2-all (one no-result).

No one expected Holder’s men to compete toe to toe with Eoin Morgan’s men and come out with their heads held high. Like Sri Lanka, West Indies had not won a bilateral ODI series for quite a while. Their last win was achieved in 2014 when they beat Bangladesh 3-0 at home. The 2-all draw against England was West Indies’ best ever effort since then.

The Windies of course were tremendously bolstered by the return of Universe Boss Chris Gayle who made himself available for the series. What an impact he made with his enormous presence and contribution with the bat. Gayle’s powerful batting inspired the West Indies side and enabled them to give England a good run for their money. Gayle scored a staggering 424 runs in four innings in the series averaging 106 and a strike rate of 134 that was inclusive of a world record 39 sixes in the series.

Gayle’s enormous presence alone rejuvenated the West Indies and brought belief in the team that they were as good as England or any side on a given day. Their 2-all draw in the series was a triumph for the Windies and could not have come at a better time than with the World Cup a couple of months away.

On the same wave length one has to admire the way the Australian team sans David Warner, Steve Smith and Mitchell Starc are making life difficult for India in the ongoing five-match ODI series that stands locked at 2-all after four matches with one to play. India playing at full strength have not been able to be as dominant as they usually are at home with some of the lesser known names in the Aussies line up stealing a march over them.

Ashton Turner (2 ODIs), Alex Carey (13), Peter Handscomb (16), Marcus Stoinis (27) are some of the new names that have caught Kohli’s men by surprise and shaken them to the very foundations that India finds themselves with a fight on their hands to win the series going into the fifth and final decisive ODI at Delhi today.

What Australia showed at Chandigarh on Sunday in the fourth ODI was that a total of even 358 is not a safe score to defend. The manner in which the young Australian team has performed in India is certainly going to cause several headaches to the national selectors in finalizing their 15 for the World Cup, what with Smith and Warner both becoming available for selection after their ban comes to an end at the end of this month. As the selectors would say it’s a nice headache to have with so many competing for places.

It is something that Sri Lanka sadly lacks at present as no one has actually put his hand up and come up with a match-winning innings that could invigorate the team and bring it back to life like Kusal Perera did to the Test side. Time is running out for Sri Lanka as they have only two more ODIs against South Africa to complete their World Cup preparations.

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