Shaken Sri Lankans resume cricket after Pakistan ordeal


by Rex Clementine

Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath chats to former captain Mahela Jayawardene at R. Premadasa Stadium yesterday. Herath is expected to play a key role during the Test series against India. Pic by Ishara S. Kodikara.

Sri Lanka were completely outplayed in the recent bilateral series against Pakistan as the home team suffered heavy losses in Test, ODI and T-20 series. Some observers have tried to brush aside these defeats as ones that could be expected when the team is in transition. Pakistan too are in transition. During the bilateral series, they got many things right while Sri Lankans faulted.

The home team faltered big time in team selections. More than six weeks prior to the two T-20s, we predicted that there was a move to leave out Dinesh Chandimal and it came true. The selectors lacked control while the captain called the shots and even justified the selections after losing the series 2-0. Sheer arrogance! It is popularly believed that southerners don’t forgive and forget easily. Lasith Malinga of Rathgama proved it beyond doubt.

Fielding was a key area where the tourists outsmarted the home team. We have never seen a Pakistani side fielding as well as the current outfit. The Sri Lankans continued to be sloppy, lethargic and not bothered.

Another area that helped the tourists dominate was their formidable bowling outfit. Pakistan’s variety in the bowling department was too good. Left-arm fast, right-arm fast, left-arm orthodox, right-arm leg-spin and off-spin, they had too much class.

Looking at India’s bowling line-up, Angelo Mathews’ side is having a sigh of relief as it lacks Pakistan’s quality.

Maybe excited by Sri Lanka’s struggles against the leg-spin of Yasir Shah, the Indians have recalled Amit Mishra after four years. Their captain Virat Kohli has been talking of playing aggressive cricket and sticking to five bowlers.

Star batsman Kumar Sangakkara will return home later this week from England where he is representing Surrey to prepare for his final series. The second Test at P. Sara Oval will be the 37-year-old’s last game for the country.

Sri Lanka left out several players, who participated in the Test series against Pakistan from the limited over games. Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, fast bowler Dhammika Prasad and off-spinner Tharindu Kaushal are all expected to be named in the squad.

India are ranked fifth in ICC Test Championship while Sri Lanka are ranked seventh.

Lahiru Thirimanne leads Sri Lanka Board XI in the three day warm-up game against the Indians that gets underway today at R. Premadasa Stadium.

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