Two major heads of Sri Lankan cricket, Kumar Sangakkara, and Mahela Jayawardene have been the reason for Sri Lanka’s evolutionary feats achieved till the 2015 World Cup. But their retirement following that, suddenly knocked them down from the renowned position of being one of the cricket’s premier national teams. Clinching a triumphant stance against India in the Champions Trophy had been their last decent game which has later been succeeded with the major downfall in their cricketing game playing. Although their skipper Angelo Mathews hasn’t left any stones unturned to prevent their collapse in world cricket, the recent series defeat against Zimbabwe seemed to be the final nail in Lanka’s coffin.
Succumbing to the second ODI defeat against Zimbabwe in the series, Matthew thought of regaining their spot by throwing a solid comeback in the decider but their ultimate endeavour got shattered when the underdog Zimbabwean team outclassed them in their final brawl which left the Lankan team badly tangled in the middle of high walls and impenetrable barriers.
The inevitable force led by great Lankan veterans Muttiah Muralitharan, Sanath Jayasuriya, Aravinda de Silva, Arjuna Ranatunga, Chaminda Vaas, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena, had been the carrier of their successful stint back then which was even considered to be a difficult undertaking for the formidable Australian side to breach.
A team, depleted of resources and fighting to maintain their Test status, came and conquered the Lankans with the ease of a butcher slaying a goat. Unfortunately, the Lankan’s fight neither lasted long nor did their minimal effort go in their favour, hence the execution of the crime in manners of losing three games against the Zimbabwean team of this era was put to the test. From there onwards, their declining ride has been on along with their woeful records since 2015 World Cup stint.
Sri Lanka has won just 16 ODIs and lost 25 since the 2015 World Cup, with their only series win in ODIs coming against Windies, Ireland and a Tri-Series involving Windies and Zimbabwe. They lost home series’ to Australia, Pakistan and now, Zimbabwe and away series’ to New Zealand, England, and South Africa. Their win/loss ratio of 0.666 during this period is worse than Bangladesh and Afghanistan and only slightly better than the Windies.
Hence now the question arises whether do this Lankan side have it in them to revamp their lost reputation in the cricketing fraternity?
Young Talents Failed To Marry Consistency:
While pondering over Sri Lanka’s relieving factor, the only thing comes out whom they can breathe on is their group of young players who carry the immense potential to save this almost drowned ship. The major names float in the front are Kusal Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella and Asela Gunaratne who have showcased their talents in big stage many times.
Mendis, an unassuming, free-flowing batsman possess the potential to be a world-class batsman. His batting onslaught can be reckoned as authoritative which can tear apart any attack. On the other end, Dickwella is the aggressor at the top alongside Danushka Gunathilaka, another player who has recently scratched the surface. Keeping their potential aside, these three have failed to dominate games by the scruff of the neck on a consistent basis, instead, they ended up hurting Sri Lanka’s batting on quite a few occasions.
Gunaratne has been the pick of the lot. With his unorthodox style of batting eerily similar to the skipper, Angelo Matthews, Gunaratne has been a magnificent finisher of Lankan’s line-up trot. Quite often he has stood by himself and waged a lonely war after his partners had betrayed him. And now on him rests a lot of Lanka’s hopes and the indications got the direction of acclaiming him as the man for all situations.
The bowling armory isn’t empty either, with chinaman Lakshan Sandakan troubling some of the best in the business in the Champions Trophy. Dushmantha Chameera, Lahiru Madushanka, Wanidu Hasaranga and Dasun Shanaka have looked the part in recent months, but none of them have readily put forward their consistent performances for the team. With Malinga and Kulasekara on the wane, Sri Lanka is short on the bowling front.
Shortage of talents never haunts the country, but grooming the same always does. May be that was the plot where Lankan’s cricketers failed to cash in. The likes of Mendis, Shanaka, and Gunaratne are flamboyant cricketers who can turn into world-class players if they are given the right guidance and mentorship. All they need is a leader, a truly captivating captain to inspire them, something which Angelo Matthews and the stand-in skipper, Upul Tharanga haven’t quite been able to do. Matthews is the senior player in the side and has enough experience up his sleeve to influence a generation of cricketers. So far he hasn’t succeeded and Sri Lanka has paid the price, a rather hefty one.
But things seemed to have fallen off in right shades when Sri Lanka upstaged the world cricket with their magnificent counter blitzkrieg to Zimbabwean in their one off test series where they outplayed their so called high flying adversary through chasing down the record target of 388. All the talented cricket finds of Lankan cricket have solidified their stance through their terrific performance in the final session of the test where Kusal Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella, and Asela Gunaratne all hit half-centuries to complete the highest ever chase in Asia and the fifth best of all time. The victory was looking beyond Lanka’s grasp when Sikandar Raza (127) rescued Zimbabwe from 59-5 in their second innings and took them to 377 all out. But Gunaratne’s adamant batting lasted for almost four hours on the final day which heaved their loss recognition in the world of cricket through sealing the win. Now all the floating critiques might have witnessed a severe blow to suffer but it is not all over yet hence all eyes are resting at their imminent stint against India.