The Sri Lankan cricket team worked in efficient manner to fashion victories in all their matches in the ICC qualification contest conducted for country teams of the second tier.
Do not underestimate this achievement. The ‘terrain’ in Zimbabwe would have been unfamiliar to many players in most of the competing teams. Ireland has been marshalling cricketing experience in recent years and would have been listed among the favorite; but they were bested by the Netherlands and Scotland.
The teams were initially divided into two blocks of 5 teams. Zimbabwe and Netherlands came first and second in Group A; while Sri Lanka and Scotland came out on top in Group B. These four teams and the West Indies and Oman … [yes OMAN] …. made up cothe cluster called the SUPER SIX competing for two spots in the forthcoming 50-over World Cup in India.
Sri Lanka proceeded to win all FIVE of their contests at that stage: a good achievement. But this was not enough: a final KO match was scheduled with the team listed two in that cluster, namely, the Netherlands (with its mixed bag of Dutchmen, British and Asians). On the foundations served up in previous matches a close contest was anticipated.
That did not come to pass. After a reasonable start in their innings Sri Lanka fell away somewhat and ended up with a modest total of 233 runs –without succeeding in playing out the total 50 overs. In the end this total proved more than adequate. Bowlers Madushanka, Hasaranga and Theekshana restricted or scythed through the Dutch team and restricted them to 103 runs. A comprehensive and stirring triumph it was.
Apart from the string of victories carved out by this Sri Lankan squad, some of the sterling performances can be listed (without imposing priorities in the order of the list)
- The solid batting provided by Pathum Nissanka in the opening position.
- Theekshana’s consistent wicket-taking (prefigured, albeit less prominently, in the Indian Super League)
- Excellent wicket-keeping from Kusal Mendis
- Useful work at slip by Dhananjaya De Silva coupled with tidy batting at times
- Dimuth Karunaratn’e useful and consistent contributions with the bat at the head of the innings
- …. Which last point indicates the prospect of ditching Dasun Shanaka as captain and placing Dimuth in charge … BECAUSE ….
- Brian Thomas in Facebook and other well-credentialled spokesmen have highlighted Shanaka’s consistent failure as a batsman.
With Dushmantha Chameera coming back into the field after being laid low by injury and Maheesh Pathirana adding his turbulent sling-bowling in Sr Lanka’s mix of bowling weaponry, the future looks good. I have always had a question-mark alongside Lahiru Kumara’s name and would have Kasun Rajitha in the squad because Pathirana, Chameera and Madushanka serve as our speed-guns.
Top Wicket Takers
Innings: 7Average: 12.90
Innings: 8Average: 12.23
Bas de Leederfm
Innings: 7Average: 22.13
Top Run Scorers
Innings: 7Average: 100.00
Innings: 8Average: 69.50
Innings: 7Average: 61.50