Our primary goal is to improve our rankings – chief selector | Daily News
Upcoming three-match series against Bangladesh

Our primary goal is to improve our rankings – chief selector

Chairman of selectors Ashantha de Mel speaks to Lasith Malinga who has hinted of retiring from ODI cricket during the Bangladesh series.
Chairman of selectors Ashantha de Mel speaks to Lasith Malinga who has hinted of retiring from ODI cricket during the Bangladesh series.

Sri Lanka will concentrate on improving their overall ODI rankings in the three-match one-day series against Bangladesh that commences at the R Premadasa Stadium on July 26, chairman of selectors Ashantha de Mel said.

Sri Lanka are currently placed eighth in the ODI rankings and Bangladesh seventh.

“Our primary goal in this series will be to improve our rankings. We are no. 8 and they are no. 7. We need to beat Bangladesh 3-0 to gain a place higher than what we are at the moment. One step up the ladder that’s what we are looking at,” said De Mel looking ahead at the series. “In those days we were never below five our main goal should be to consolidate our position slowly.”

In the recently concluded Cricket World Cup, Sri Lanka finished sixth and Bangladesh eighth in the league standings with both teams failing to qualify for a place in the knockouts. Thus the upcoming series is important for both sides to start rebuilding for the future.

Sri Lanka are unlikely to veer too much away from their combination used for the last few World Cup games.

“Most likely the six batters might hold their place with Dhananjaya de Silva at seven. If at all it will be in the bowling for four places. We will have to decide on the bowlers depending on the nature of the pitch,” said De Mel.

The top six in the line-up are skipper Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Perera, Avishka Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews and Lahiru Thirimanne.

One of the bowlers who will be in the running for a place is spinner Akila Dananjaya who has returned to competitive cricket with a remodelled bowling action after being reported.

“We have asked Akila to bowl without any fear now that he has been cleared,” said De Mel.

On the future of all-rounder Thisara Perera, De Mel said that he will have to compete for a place with Isuru Udana.

“Both cannot play and at the moment Udana has his nose in front of Thisara because he has other skills too. There is also Dasun Shanaka we have told him to either be a batting all-rounder able to bat in the top six or a bowling all-rounder who can bowl his full quota of ten overs. There is no room for half-baked all-rounders. Lahiru Madushanka is also another up and coming all rounder,” said De Mel.

EMPHASIS ON GOOD PITCHES

The chief selector said that he has emphasised for good pitches for all three matches and had spoken to Godfrey Dabare, Sri Lanka Cricket’s curator for all venues.

“I have told Godfrey to make good pitches for all three games with pace and bounce and a little bit of carry where good cricket can be played and both sides will be able to score runs. All three matches will be played on new tracks,” said De Mel.

Sri Lanka’s spearhead in white ball cricket Lasith Malinga has hinted of retiring from ODIs during the Bangladesh series and the first game could well be his swansong.

“Malinga wanted to retire after the first game but we told him because he was getting wickets for us and he was our most successful bowler in the World Cup to play the entire series and then retire,” said De Mel.

‘However he has told us that his body was a little tired and all that. Malinga is coming back today (Sunday) and if he wants to retire after the first game there is nothing we can do. It is upto him,” he said.

Post Malinga, De Mel a Sri Lankan spearhead in his prime said that they have a crop of fast bowlers like Lahiru Gamage, Lahiru Kumara, Kasun Rajitha, Nuwan Pradeep and Asitha Fernando who have to increase their speeds, develop their skills and given experience.

De Mel said he wants the Sri Lanka Cricket coaches to improve the speed of all our fast bowlers. “I spoke to the Indian coaching staff and they told me how they had increased Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s speed from 125kph to 140kph.”

De Mel also emphasized on fielding as Sri Lanka will be going through a rough passage trying to find match-winning bowlers.

“We are not a great bowling side so we need to create pressure on the field. To do that we need very good fielders we cannot carry any passengers,” he said.

De Mel said that Angelo Mathews will be spoken to shortly about his future in ODI cricket. “If he wants to remain he must improve his fitness in running between wickets and on the field, if not play only Test cricket.”

BATSMEN SHOULD ALSO CONTRIBUTE WITH BALL

De Mel has also put his foot down and emphasized that batsmen should bowl at the nets and try to contribute towards the bowling unit.

“I have spoken to captain Dimuth, Kusal Mendis and Lahiru Thirimanne and asked them to bowl at the nets and occasionally when needed at matches.”

Not so very long ago we had players in the caliber of Aravinda de Silva, Sanath Jayasuriya and Tillakaratne Dilshan contributing immensely towards the team by turning their arms and picking up useful wickets.

“It is the coach’s job to get these players to bowl at the nets and improve them all-round and not the selectors,” said De Mel.

Kusal Perera will continue to keep wickets because that is where he is less likely to get injured. “When you put him in the outfield he throws himself around trying to save boundaries and injures his hamstring. Kusal has to undergo surgery on his hamstring at some point if he wants to prolong his career but it depends when he wants to do it because he will be out of action for quite some time,” said De Mel whose committee of four comprising Brendon Kuruppu, Hemantha Wickremaratne and Chaminda Mendis have been appointed for one year till November.


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