Sri Lanka aims at a medal
The Sri Lankan cricket team for the Asian Games in China left the
island on the 17 with high hopes of bringing a medal back to the
country. The team which is led by Jehan Mubarak includes several T 20
specialists and national players. Daily News met up with the mild
mannered captain of the team Jehan Mubarak who talked about the Asian
games,the team,Captaining Wayamba and his future hopes. These are some
excerpts from the interview.
Q: What are our chances in the upcoming Asian games with India not
sending a team and Pakistan also sending second string team?
A: Our chances are quite good I believe. Pakistan and Bangladesh will
be fielding their second string team, but they will be very competitive
in the T20 format. While our main challenge will be from these teams, we
will also face the challenge of adapting to the conditions in China.
This is the first time cricket (of this standard) is being played in
China and the teams that adapt quickest to the weather, pitch and ground
conditions will have the upper hand.
Q: The team is filled with hard hitters and T 20 specialists. Your
thoughts on it?
A: Yes, we have several players, guys like Jeewantha, Indika,
Chinthaka, Kaushalya and Dilhara who are capable of clearing the ropes.
While we need the hard hitters, we also have the grafters in the squad
who can work the ball around and rotate the strike. This balance is
going to be very important when it comes to winning games.
Q: The team looks a blend of experience and youth. The side has a 37
year old Jeevantha as well as a 20 year old Kusal Janith. Was it a
problem in communicating with the team?
A: Not really, both of them played for Wayamba with me and they work
very well together, and in fact we all gel very well as a team.
Sometimes you need the senior players to guide and encourage the juniors
with their experience, and sometimes you need the juniors with their
talent and enthusiasm to inject a bit of life and energy into the team,
and the two complement each other perfectly.
Q: The team has Ex Lankan seamer Nuwan Zoysa and forgotten hard
hitting batsman Indika De Saram. Do you think that they have a chance of
returning to the Lankan team?
A: To me anyone has the opportunity to make it to the National Team.
Its just a matter of two or three good innings for the selectors to take
notice of you, and if your fitness levels and fielding is up to the mark
I don't think anyone should be tagged as 'too old' or 'forgotten'. Even
though these may not be considered International matches, the
competition will be fierce and our manager Ranjit Fernando being a
national selector as well, will definitely encourage everyone to
challenge for a place in the National Team.
Q: Whom do you have faith in succeeding in unknown Chinese
A: You just need two guys to get going either with the bat or the
ball to win a T20 game, and we have many in our squad who are capable of
winning a game, that its hard to name a few. I have mentioned a few
batsmen earlier but Isuru Udana and Malinga Bandara to me will be the
key bowlers for us in winning matches. But as I said it is those who are
able to adapt their game when needed who will bring us success.
Q: You have been captaining the Wayamba team and now the Sri Lankan
side for the Asian games. Do you enjoy Captaining?
A: Firstly it is a great honour to lead a Sri Lankan cricket team at
such a huge event as the Asian Games. I have had the pleasure of
captaining the Wayamba Team and the Asian Games XI, both which have
extremely talented players and are very easy to work with, and I must
say that I have totally enjoyed my time with them both on and off the
field. As for captaining, I enjoy trying to out-think the opposition
with different strategies, as well to get the best out of my team both
individually and as a unit.
Q: Wayamba team which had a whole lot more preparation for the CLT 20
this time put up a miserable performance although possessing a lot of
National players. Why was this?
A: Yes it was disappointing after all that preparation. We were
playing against very good teams who had experience playing in similar
conditions, and unfortunately out top experienced players couldn't get
going. Especially with the bat, we lost too many wickets early on, which
exposed our relatively inexperienced middle order.
At this level in this format, its very hard to play 'catch-up'
cricket, you have to take control of the game- which we struggled to do.
However, though the results were disappointing, each of us we gained
valuable experience both as individuals and as a team and will hold us
in good stead in the future.
Q: You were once a part of the Sri Lankan team and you came under
severe criticism for not performing to your potential and you were
finally dropped. Any thoughts on that?
A: As a professional cricketer you are always under pressure to
perform, that is part of the job and is something we learn to enjoy to
thrive on that pressure.
Unfortunately I haven't performed consistently at international
level, which always opens the door for criticism.
I know there will always be detractors, but my focus is on my game
and improving it to be the best I can be- I leave the selection to the
selectors and the criticism to the critics.