Sri Lanka’s flawed ODI strategies
by Rex Clementine
Sri Lanka’s cricketers in New Zealand are kicking themselves having lost the Test series 2-0 and spoiling an excellent campaign in the World Test Championship where they beat some formidable teams.
In Christchurch they were beaten by the barest of margins in the last ball of the game while in Wellington their batting technique was flawed unable to handle the short ball. It was pathetic to see seasoned campaigners having chinks in their techniques tackling something so essential for a batsman to succeed leave alone at the highest level but even in school cricket. What’s the Batting Coach doing?
If they had hanged on for a few more overs on the penultimate day at the Basin Reserve, they could have got away with a draw as it rained on day five relentlessly.
Now the Sri Lankans have moved up north of New Zealand with Auckland hosting the first match of the ODI series on Saturday. Auckland’s Eden Park has been hosting Test cricket since 1930 and a popular rugby ground too. It was here the 2011 Rugby World Cup final was played.
This three match series is crucial for Sri Lanka as they need to win all games to automatically qualify for this year’s World Cup. Failing which they will have to play the qualifying round in Zimbabwe in June.
Beating New Zealand 3-0 seems a tall order for a team that failed to beat Afghanistan in their own backyard early this year.
The more realistic hope for them is to play the qualifiers and get on top of it and then go through to the World Cup.
The current selection panel has been backing too many all-rounders in the last two years. They tend to pack the playing eleven with some five all-rounders, an outdated practice in limited overs cricket. That itself tells you the story how outdated the selectors are. Dhananjaya de Silva obviously deserves his place in the side as he’s proved to be a crafty all-rounder and then there’s Dasun Shanaka, the captain. Wanindu Hasaranga makes it three all-rounders and that’s ample.
On top of these the selectors back Dunith Wellalage and Chamika Karunaratne too.
As a result of banking on too many all-rounders, captain Dasun Shanaka has to bat at number five and Wanindu Hasaranga at number six . That’s what happened in Sri Lanka’s last ODI at Trivandrum in January this year.
Numbers five and six are crucial roles in ODI cricket and should be performed by specialist batters. Dasun and Wanindu are finishers and ideally you’d want them at seven and eight.
The other two all-rounders the selectors have backed like Dunith and Chamika are neither contributing with the bat nor are capable of bowling their quota of overs economically.
The tactic has cost the national cricket team dearly and the sooner we get out of it is the better. But when you look at the squad for the New Zealand series, you tend to get the feeling that same old methods that have been disastrous over the last two years will be on show again.
Novak Djokovic & Carlos Alcaraz to meet in French Open 2023 semi-finals
Top seed Carlos Alcaraz will face Novak Djokovic in the French Open semi-finals after crushing Stefanos Tsitsipas to set up the highly anticipated clash.
Spain’s Alcaraz, 20, won 6-2 6-1 7-6 (7-5) against the Greek fifth seed.
Serbia’s Djokovic survived a quarter-final scare from Karen Khachanov to keep his bid for a record 23rd men’s Grand Slam singles title alive. Djokovic, 36, was in danger of falling two sets behind against the Russian but prevailed 4-6 7-6 (7-0) 6-2 6-4.
The third seed could become the first man to win all four majors at least three times. But if he is going to do that he must come through his toughest test yet when he meets US Open champion Alcaraz in the last four on Friday.
Sri Lanka confident World Cup qualifiers will go well
Having failed to qualify automatically for the World Cup later this year, Sri Lanka will be flying shortly to Zimbabwe to secure one of the two remaining slots for the sport’s showpiece event. But before that they have got to finish off the ODI series against Afghanistan and the former champions will be hoping that they will be able to clinch the series prior to flying off to Harare.
After losing the first ODI by six wickets, Sri Lanka bounced back to square the series with a 132-run win on Sunday. That was a match where they basically produced the perfect game and ticked all the boxes.
The top order gave a solid start before the middle order capitalized on it and the lower middle order finished things off in style scoring 109 runs from the last ten overs. Sri Lanka piled up 323 for six and Afghanistan were never in the hunt as they were shot out for 191.
“The last game was a perfect exhibition of our plans. Everything was executed well. Since we had wickets in hand we could take risks. We could double the score and that was the plan. That’s what we want to do,” Sri Lanka’s Batting Coach Naveed Nawaz told journalists.
Prior to this series, we had a free period and we worked a lot on players’ fitness at the High-Performance Center. During this series we brought in a dietician and planned our food patterns. There is also a psychologist around. This is all done in a bid to establish whatever we have lost in the last few years,” Nawaz added.
While Sri Lanka are fretting over World Cup qualifications, there’s no such trouble for Afghanistan. Their captain Hashmatullah Shahidi told journalists that they will be one of the dark horses during the World Cup.
“Our ratings are improving day by day and match by match. We believe that we can do something special in this World Cup. We will be one of the best teams in the World Cup. We are the dark horses. The Asian conditions will suit our spin bowlers and we are excited,” Hashmatullah Shahidi said.
For today’s series decider leg-spinner Rashid Khan is expected to make a comeback having missed the first two ODIs due to a back injury.
“He is obviously our star performer. We didn’t want to take any risks with him as we have the Asia Cup and the World Cup. We will assess his situation during training and make a call whether he is ready to feature in the final game. It will mean a lot to us to come here to Sri Lanka and beat them in their own backyard,” the Afghan captain said.
Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Bangladesh reject PCB’s hybrid model?
Have Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Bangladesh formally rejected the hybrid model proposed by Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for the Asia Cup? That seems to be the latest on the imbroglio that has led to prolonged uncertainty over staging of the six-national continental championship. Sri Lanka is set to be the host.
According to the news coming in from Pakistan, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) and Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) have written to the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) formally rejecting the host PCB’s formula of conducting four games in Pakistan and rest of the matches in the UAE, thereby upholding the position of the BCCI which has been opposed to the model.
The development was revealed by Rashid Latif. “India and 3 countries, except Pakistan, rejected Hybrid model for Asia cup, All agreed on one venue due to logistics and financial issues. Might be a Zoom meeting soon or a general meeting in Dubai in a few days to finalise the matter (Sic),” the former Pakistan captain said in a Twitter post. When contacted by Cricbuzz, Latif confirmed the news and also guaranteed the authenticity of this update.
“I have information from independent sources that four countries have rejected the model and it is now a formality that the Asia Cup will be moved out of Pakistan,” Latif, a highly respected former captain, told cricbuzz on Tuesday morning. Asked if Pakistan would participate in the tournament, he said it should. “I feel Pakistan should and will.”
However, there was no official clarity on the topic until late in the evening yesterday.
Previously cricbuzz had reported, quoting an SLC official, that Sri Lanka were prepared to host the championship if allotted by the ACC.
The six-team Asia Cup, tentatively scheduled to start in the second week of September, is seen as a significant precursor to the World Cup in October-November. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Nepal are to take part in the 17-game championship.
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