Lankan cricketers find other ways and means to gain T20 experience | Daily News

Lankan cricketers find other ways and means to gain T20 experience

Sri Lanka’s blow hot blow cold performances in T20 International cricket has been their lack of experience playing in that type of format even at domestic level and this shortcoming has been emphasized on several instances by the chairman of selectors Ashantha de Mel whose selection committee has quite a headache when they sit down to pick squads because they have to do with only what is available and that is not just good enough if we are to compete with other nations at next year’s World T20 in Australia.

Sri Lanka stunned the number one ranked T20I side Pakistan on their home turf with a 3-0 whitewash fielding a virtual second string side only to be blanked out by the same margin in Australia despite the return of experienced players who kept out of the Pakistan tour on security grounds.

The Australian tour exposed many frailties in the Lankan approach and it was largely due to the lack of exposure to the shortest format which with each passing day is reaching a different level and unless you keep tabs by playing it consistently you are in danger of being left behind high and dry by the rest of the world.

In that context it was most encouraging to see nearly 20 of Sri Lanka’s T20 cricketers being involved in the Abu Dhabi T10 which was concluded on Monday with Maratha Arabians led by West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo and comprising four Sri Lankans Lasith Malinga, Dasun Shanaka, Kasun Rajitha and Wanindu Hasaranga lifting the trophy defeating Deccan Gladiators comprising Bhanuka Rajapaksa pretty convincingly by eight wickets with 16 balls to spare.

Malinga at 37 is the only Lankan star who still continues to be a draw card for any overseas franchise despite his age. That alone shows how much the quality of our players who are coming through the present system have fallen.

Bangla Tigers who finished third in the tournament was led by Thisara Perera and comprised Prabath Jayasuriya and Shehan Jayasuriya. They beat Qalandars captained by Dawid Malan who stuck the fastest century in England’s T20I history with an unbeaten 103 off 48 balls against New Zealand at Napier early this month, in the play-off for third place. Sri Lankans Lahiru Kumara and Seekkuge Prasanna also represented Qalandars.

Other Sri Lankan players who figured in the ten-day tournament were Niroshan Dickwella and Avishka Fernando for Team Abu Dhabi, Angelo Mathews, Kusal Perera and Dushmantha Chameera for Delhi Bulls, Nuwan Pradeep and Asela Gunaratne for Northern Warriors, and Upul Tharanga and Malinda Pushpakumara for Karnataka Tuskers.

Further Sri Lanka’s other one-day specialist Isuru Udana is figuring in the ongoing Mzansi T20 Super League in South Africa where he helped Paarl Rocks captained by South African skipper Faf du Plessis and comprising JP Duminy, Dwaine Pretorius and Tabraiz Shamsi to pull off a thrilling two-run win over Cape Town Blitz to secure their second win in the tournament. Udana tasked with defending 11 runs in the final over took a wicket off the first ball, dropped a return catch off the second, bowled two agonizing wides, but conceded only one off the final ball when four were needed.

Udana was preferred as replacement to England’s David Willey as Paarl Rocks’ international marquee player having made himself familiar to the South African audience being one of the few players to make a real impact during Sri Lanka’s limited-over leg of their tour early this year averaging 55 with the bat in the five-match ODI series and a whopping 132 across the three T20Is that included a career best 84 not out off 48 balls at the Centurion which is the highest individual score made by a current Sri Lankan player in T20 Internationals.

CSA Acting Director of Cricket Corrie van Zyl said of Udana when he was signed up: “He was Sri Lanka's star player during their T20 Series against the Proteas earlier this year. He made more than twice the number of runs as any of his colleagues and had a strike rate of more than 170. This is right up with the very best standards by any comparison. He has a career strike rate of 153 in the T20 International format and one of 96 in ODI's.”

It is hoped that these exposures in Abu Dhabi and South Africa would hold the Lankan T20 cricketers in good stead for their next international assignment which is to India in January for a series of three T20Is.

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