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Saturday, 6 August 2011






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Mathews’ elevation as vice captain welcome

Why are Silva, Kulasekara and Dilruwan Perera in T 20 squad? :

The big battle is on for the Lankan Lions against a depleted and rebuilding Australian side after a grueling series against a top English team who are hammering the ‘No 1 ranked test team India’.

Angelo Mathews

Now we have the home advantage and conditions which our cricketers know like the back of their hand, spin friendly tracks for our spinners, tracks without much seam movement and bounce for our batsmen plus huge crowd support.

The Australian tour starts off with two T20 games at the picturesque Pallekelle Stadium and the selectors have named a squad as usual with a few surprises.

Firstly the selectors named a 20-member pool for the T20 games and the five match ODI series and prolific off spinner Sachithra Senanayake was named much to the delight of the Lankan fans who keenly follow domestic and ‘A’ team cricket and know how much Sachitra deserves a go in the national team.

Veteran leg spinner Malinga Bandara was named as well plus ‘slow ball specialist’ Isuru Udana was included after being in the wilderness for some time.

But then the selectors had included the likes of off spinner Dilruwan Perera coming out of no where and Rangana Herath for the T20, 16-man squad who were not part of the initial 20-man squad which begs the question as to what was the point of naming a 20 man squad for the T20 and ODI games.

Nuwan Kulasekara

Angelo finally appointed vice captain, Kandamby axed

One of the few positives of the T20 squad is that dynamic all rounder Angelo Mathews has finally being named the vice captain of the side, a move which the cricket loving public expected long time back.

Surprisingly the rotund Thilina Kandamby who was appointed ‘Specialist vice captain’ for the T20 and ODI games and more importantly who captained the side for the only T20 game against England has been dropped.

Disappointing Kulasekara has to make an impact

Since 2010 Zimbabwe tri series, Nuwan Kulasekara the former World No 1 ranked bowler in ODIs certainly has gone down hill with his performances.In 27 matches since then he has taken 20 wickets at an average of a high 46, but when you remove the matches against minnows he has taken only 14 wickets in 21 matches with an extremely high average of 58.

Dilruwan Perera

More importantly Kulasekara has gone wicketless in eight matches out of the 21 against top teams which gives him a high percentage of 38 percent without wickets. His strike rate has been a shocking 71 in those 21 games.

We expected Kulasekara to shine in England where the pitches and the conditions suited his style of bowling. But his ‘75 miles per hour’ balls were no match for the English batsmen as he took just one wicket in the 5 matches played which gave him a ‘Bradmansque bowling average of 197’ and an astonishing ‘Pollard like strike rate of 221’.

Kulasekara’s inclusion in T20s is a matter of concern. He isn’t in great form at all with the ball and in his last T20 game in the Inter Provincial T20 league Kulasekara leaked 47 runs of 4 overs against Ruhuna playing for Combined Provinces.

The astonishing fact is that his last over went for a massive 24 runs and more importantly it was the tail enders for Ruhuna No 10 Chinthaka Perera and No 11 Chanaka Welegedara who hammered Kulasekara. Kulasekara if he is in the playing 11, needs to step up big time and has to use Yorkers and changes of pace in the T20s to keep the run flow down.

Chamara Silva - a bizarre selection for T20

Chamara Silva has been an enigma in international cricket. A talented player who likes to play shots has been disappointing and been seriously out form from last year. He had a terrible World Cup in 2011 and his main problem is that he gets bogged down under pressure and struggles to place the ball to the gaps.

This was witnessed clearly in the game against Pakistan where Silva played a strange innings and his constant blocking helped increase the required run rate rapidly and Sri Lanka lost the game. He had a dreadful semi final against New Zealand which he clawed to a painstaking 13 of 25 balls almost cost Sri Lanka the match and he was dropped from the World Cup Final as well.

Silva is out form, short of confidence and he isn’t an ideal T20 player. The selectors would have to answer why Silva was considered over attacking players like Angelo Perera, Dilshan Munaweera and Sachith Pathirana who have been knocking on the doors for quite sometime. Silva is 31 and isn’t getting any younger and has a poor international T20 record.

He has played 15 games and has scored only 171 runs with a highest score of just 38. His strike rate is an alarming 101 which is way below par in international level. Silva was very poor in the recent Provincial League scoring just 64 runs in four games with a strike rate of 110.

Dilruwan Perera - the surprise inclusion

The biggest surprise in the squad is Off spinner Dilruwan Perera who makes a comeback to the national team after three long years.

His last appearance for Sri Lanka was against a super star Australian team and then selectors opted Dilruwan to open the innings and the move became a disaster with Dilruwan having no clue against the express pace bowling of Brett Lee who roughed him up plus Mitchel Johnson and former world No one ranked ODI bowler Nathan Bracken.

Chamara Silva

Dilruwan was rightfully dropped afterwards after a very poor series with the bat managing only 14 runs in three games. Dilruwan who is 29 years now, is surprisingly back for T20 games after doing nothing special in the domestic arena with the ball or bat.

He hasn’t been even a regular member of the A team for the past couple of years.

Dilruwan was used as an opening bowler in some T20 provincial games and he had some success with the ball. His best figures being 3 for 14 runs in 4 overs against Combined Provinces and baring that game he has taken a majority of lower order wickets of his total six wickets in the tournament.

Dilruwan who played only three games and bagged six wickets was also named the ‘Best Bowler of the Tournament’ over Randiv who took 10 wickets plus was instrumental in Ruhuna winning the T20 title.

Hopefully the selectors would not make the same mistake and make Dilruwan bat at the top like in 2008 as he clearly lacks the technique, the temperament or the shots to do so. He only averages 17 in batting in List A cricket and his T20 average is at 14.

One also wonders why the experienced and explosive all rounder Janaka Gunarathne wasn’t preferred ahead of Dilruwan if the selectors wanted a proper off spinning all rounder.

Janaka who was last year’s best bowler of the Provincial T20 league shone this time around as well with 137 runs in six games for Ruhuna and also bagged six wickets. Janaka was one of the major match winners for Ruhuna and his whirlwind 83 of 42 balls in the final helped Ruhuna to put up a huge score. Janaka is 30 years of age and hopefully he can shine in the Champions League T20 and prove the selectors wrong.


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