HAS SRI LANKA’S BOWLING LOOKED STRONGER EVER BEFORE?September 15, 2012, 5:01 pm
by Rex Clementine
Historically, Sri Lanka have not banked on their bowling to do them the job in international competitions. During the glorious 90s, it was a case of letting your opponents post whatever and then depend on your strong batting line up to chase down the target. And more often than not it worked.
Then at the turn of the new millennium, with the De Silvas, Ranatungas, Tillekeratnes, Gurusinghes and Mahanamas gone, the match winning formula for Sri Lanka was a different one.
There still was superman Sanath Jayasuriya and a young Kumar Sangakkara was steadily rising, but the bowling had improved tremendously as well due to the presence of Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan, who were match winners.
But beyond the two of them, the bowling overall was mediocre and hence Sri Lanka depended heavily on batting all-rounders.
But the trend seems to be changing nowadays. Sri Lanka will go into the World T-20 with a bowling unit that has the capability to be probably their best ever. Of course, individuals aren’t even near to replace the likes of Murali and Vaas. But when you take overall, the attack provides the captain with several options and gone are the days that he had to use his best two bowlers at the most crucial moments. Today Sri Lanka’s captain can be flexible with his attack, particularly in T-20 tournaments.
While Lasith Malinga is the most feared bowler in shorter versions of the game nowadays, Nuwan Kulasekara has been so steady that his absence was felt when he was injured and unavailable to play the series against India.
Shaminda Eranga who has impressed with his pace will be in action and although he can be erratic, he generates pace and has the potential to develop into a match winner.
A couple of years ago Ajantha Mendis stormed into world cricket during the Asia Cup with a match winning performance in the final against India. Since then opposition teams have found ways to play him and his progress has been hampered by injuries. Captain Mahela Jayawardene has not given up hope however and believes that he has a lot more to offer to the team.
"He is a key weapon for us. The thing about Ajantha is that you may be able to pick him, but you still have to hit him," Jayawardene said. "If you take his record, he has been phenomenal. It was important for us to get him fit again 100 percent. Last six months before he got injured, he wasn’t 100 percent fit and he wasn’t bowling well. So he has come after a long lay-off and in the nets he has looked good and his back looks stronger. He is eager to get back and he is going to play a big role for us. He is an experienced bowler having played in three big tournaments for us earlier."
Teenage off-spinner Akila Dananjaya has been another bowler Jayawardene was impressed with at first sight and pushed for his case once he worked on his consistency.
"Before we went to play Pakistan in UAE last year, he was in the nets bowling. I found it tough to pick him, but at the same time he wasn’t being consistent. He was bowling short and didn’t have control. I spoke to Piyal Wijetunga, who was his coach and I asked him where he is from. I was told that he has been coming through the ranks. Piyal told him that rather than trying all the variations, he needed to first get his line and length right. So six months later I faced him again before we went to South Africa and there was a huge improvement. He had more control and everything was good," Jayawardene said on Dananjaya.
The regular bowlers are well supported by the likes of Thisara Perera, Angelo Mathews in the pace department and Jeevan Mendis and Tillekeratne Dilshan in spin. Thisara in particular is a hugely improved bowler and Sri Lanka’s prospects in the World T-20 looks brighter than even.
What’s Sri Lanka’s best overseas Test win?
Last Updated May 21 2013 | 06:02 pm