Onus on Sri Lankan batsmen to lend a helping hand to bowling unit
It would not be a surprise if, at times during this tour of England, Sri Lanka’s bowlers had cast suspicious glances across the dressing room at their batsmen. After all, in three of the four white-ball matches so far, Sri Lanka’s bowlers have had periods of play when they have been on top of England’s much-heralded batting line-up. All of those matches ended in defeat, of course, but had Sri Lanka’s batsmen been able to contribute more, a different result may have been possible. It has been a one-sided tour so far but at least half of Sri Lanka’s team has been operating well.
In the second T20I in Cardiff, for instance, England were reduced to 36 for 4 but were only chasing a paltry 111 which meant they had time to sit in and recover, take the sting out of Sri Lanka’s bowlers and ease their way to the target. Even another 30 runs would have tested them far more. In the opening ODI in Durham, it was a similar story.
After Jonny Bairstow’s initial blitz, Sri Lanka took four wickets for 26 runs and were back in the game. England, however, were never in any real danger because they were only chasing 185. Again, another 50 runs might have made things interesting. In the final T20I, Sri Lanka bowled first and claimed five for 19 at the back end of the innings to keep England’s total within reach. Then they were bundled out for just 91.
Dushmantha Chameera has been the standout bowler for Sri Lanka. He took six wickets in the T20I series, including four in the final game at the Ageas Bowl with a superb collection of slower balls that bamboozled England’s middle order. In between times, he has bowled with real pace. He picked up three more wickets in Durham, having Eoin Morgan caught behind from one that zipped through quicker than the England captain was expecting and then Sam Billings caught at backward point shortly after. Chameera also got rid of Moeen Ali, for 28, but should have had him first ball. Unfortunately, Kusal Perera behind the stumps dropped a crucial edge.
Tall left-armer Binura Fernando has been quietly impressive too, proving difficult for England’s batsmen to get on top of. He conceded just over six runs an over in the T20I series and picked up Bairstow in game one of the ODIs with a ball that cramped him from round the wicket. It was a vital wicket at a vital stage. Fernando remains inexperienced – he has played just six international matches – but appears to have a cool head. Wanindu Hasaranga has not taken that many wickets with his skiddy leg-spin but he has consistently troubled England’s batsmen while seamer Chamika Karunaratne, in just his second ODI, bustled in well during the first 50-over game and has a fantastic domestic record.
Even considering the players England are missing for this series, their batting line-up remains strong and Sri Lanka’s bowlers have done a good job against them. It is a young and inexperienced group. Chameera is 29 but the rest of Sri Lanka’s attack in the opening ODI were 25 or younger. Hasaranga has 22 ODI caps to his name but Fernando and Karunaratne are making their way in international cricket while so too is Praveen Jayawickrama, a promising left-arm spinner who took 11 wickets on his Test debut against Bangladesh earlier this year. He only bowled one over in Durham, his ODI debut, but should get more opportunities to show what he can do in the rest of the series.
Mickey Arthur has spent much of this tour shaking his head at the performances of his batsmen, on and off the field, but he will be pleased with the displays of Sri Lanka’s bowlers. They have done a good job in difficult circumstances and proved they can mix it with England’s batting line-up. They have held up their end of the bargain. Now it is the turn of Sri Lanka’s batsmen to step up in the remaining two matches of the ODI series. If they don’t, there may be more accusing glances heading their way from their bowling counterparts.
The Oval surface is one of the best for batting in the country which should at least give Sri Lanka’s beleaguered batsmen some cause for optimism today. They could not ask for a better pitch to find their form again. The forecast for the game is good, with sun and temperatures in the mid-20s expected although whoever wins the toss will probably want to field first. Of the last eight completed day-night games at The Oval, seven have been won by the side batting second.
Sri Lanka’s options are limited given three players have been sent home for a breach of the COVID-19 protocols in place for this series. For that reason, they may stick with the batting order that played the opening match of the series with the old adage ringing in their ears of ‘you got us into this mess, you can get us out of it’. If a change to the batting is considered, Oshada Fernando is the most experienced option.
(Probable XI) Kusal Perera (Captain), Pathum Nissanka, Oshada Fernando, Charith Asalanka, Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Ramesh Mendis, Chamika Karunaratne, Binura Fernando, Dushmantha Chameera, Praveen Jayawickrama
(Probable XI) Jonny Bairstow, Liam Livingstone, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (Captain), Sam Billings, Moeen Ali, Sam Curran, Chris Woakes, David Willey, Tom Curran, Adil Rashid.
Track and field action from Diyagama
The Track and Field season commenced with some of the best athletes in the senior and Under 20 age categories producing notable performances during the two-day Junior and Senior Selection Trial concluded at Diyagama on Tuesday. Here are some action pictures from the day two of the event.
(Pix by Kamal Wanniarachchi)
Dharshana’s false start dampen an otherwise remarkable day
by Reemus Fernando
Sprinter Aruna Dharshana gave athletics fans both joy and heartache on an otherwise remarkable day as the Junior and Senior Track and Field trials concluded with a number of athletes achieving their personal bests at Diyagama yesterday.
Athletics analysts were waiting for Dharshana to reach his personal best in the men’s 400 metres final after the Army athlete produced the best performance in the heats where as many as five athletes clocked sub 47 seconds. When Dharshana followed up his 200 metres winning time of 21.12 seconds with a feat of 46.43 seconds in the 400 metres many expected him to produce a sub 46 seconds performance in the final.
But the shocking foul start meant that he will have to wait for more than a month to test his true potential. Incidentally, Kalinga Kumarage, who was off-colour in the heats (47.51 secs – second in heat 3) won the final with a feat of 46.27 seconds. However, 100 metres sprinter Medhani Jayamanne who was disqualified for a foul start in the women’s 100 metres heats was not so unlucky, as athletics officials gave her an opportunity to compete in the women’s 100 metres final, though her place was (2nd) not recognised. She clocked 12.16 seconds in the final.
In Dharshana’s absence four others, namely, Kumarage, R.N. Rajakaruna, Dinuka Deshan and Pabasara Niku clocked sub 47 seconds.
In the corresponding women’s 400 metres, schoolgirl Tharushi Karunaratne continued to shock her senior counterparts. Having won the women’s 800 metres on day one, the Ratnayake Central prodigy also bagged the 400 metres victory as she clocked 53.41 seconds to beat Asian Championship participant Nadeesha Ramanayake.
In the men’s 100 metres Chamod Yodasinghe reached his personal best as he clocked 10.37 seconds to win the final.
In the women’s 100 metres final, Rumeshika Ratnayake clocked 12.01 seconds to win running against the wind (-2.9). In the heats, she clocked sub 12 seconds.
In the morning, Gayanthika Abeyratne finished the women’s 1500 metres just three seconds shy of her national record mark as she clocked 4:12.53 seconds to win closely followed by steeplechase national record holder Nilani Ratnayake. Abeyratne’s national record established last year stands at 4:09.12 seconds.
In the Under 20 age category events Malith Yasiru produced the second-best performance of the Asian region in the Under 20 boys’ triple jump this year when he cleared a distance of 15.43 metres to win the event.
Sri Lankan sailing teams compete in Pakistan
The Sri Lankan national team of two sailors and one windsurfer, with the Navy team of a sailor and a windsurfer, were invited to participate at the first Chief of Navy Staff International Sailing Regatta 2023 held from March 14 to 20 in Karachi, Pakistan. Twelve countries including Australia, Bahrain, Croatia, Egypt, China, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Oman, Singapore, Thailand and Turkey had sent their teams to Karachi. The Sri Lankan national team consisted of Laser Standard sailor (ILCA 7) NGMU Ghanawardene, Sri Lanka Navy, Priyantha Gunawardene, Sri Lanka Navy participating in the Windsurfing RSX Class and Laser 4.7 (ILCA 4) sailor Tharen Nanayakkara. The Navy team consisted of Laser Standard sailor (ILCA 7) JMPL Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka Navy and WAS Weeratunge, Sri Lanka Navy participating in the Windsurfing RSX Class.
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