Home > Features >

Sri Lanka have the right blend of youth and experience for ICC World T20 2014

Sri-Lankan-cricketers-walk-back-to-the-dressing-room-after-winning-the-seventh-match-of-the-Asia-Cup-one-day-cricket-tournament-between-Sri-Lanka-and-Afghanistan
The young Sri Lankans have taken no time in settling into the team thanks to the stable makeup of the team © AFP

By R Vishal

After faltering in International Cricket Council (ICC) tournaments for number of years at the final hurdle, Sri Lanka broke the jinx to clinch the Asia Cup 2014 in style through Lahiru Thirimanne’s century, with veteran Mahela Jayawardene providing ample support.

More than breaking the shackles and showing the bottle at the biggest occasion, it is the reservoir of talent that the Island nation have for the present and the future across formats that puts them in good stead. With the senior players around and guiding the team ably their future is bright for the foreseeable future.

The great Sri Lankan team of the 1990s always prided on their strength in the batting line-up. Then Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara took over the mantle from Aravinda de Silva and Arjuna Ranatunga. Now too we can think of plenty of contenders to fill the shoes of the decorated duo who are proud owners of the highest ever partnership in Tests.

While their Test team is still a work-in-progress, their One-Day International (ODI) team has seen a vast influx of talent at the top order; young, hungry and eager to stake their claim by playing fearless and attacking brand of cricket that they have thrived on.

ICC World T20 2014 schedule: Match time table with venue details

Kusal Perera, with his Sanath Jayasuriya-like swagger and stroke-making abilities has proved that he is no poor imitation of the Matara dasher and is the real deal at the top of the order. With the once forgotten man Thirimanne making a stunning comeback into the scheme of things, it provides the team management with a wealth of options.

Dinesh Chandimal’s blow hot-blow cold form might be a bit of concern after the immense promise he showed when he broke in the scene. But he has shown glimpses of getting back to his former self with a couple of decent outings in the Asia Cup and in the ODI series against Bangladesh. He is slowly finding his groove back.

Even a late entrant like Ashan Priyanjan has used his opportunities well. He can be counted upon as an additional bowling option in the mix. Kithuruwan Vithanage scored a blistering hundred against Bangladesh recently, but tougher challenges await the lanky southpaw who bats down the order. With age on his side, he will get chances to prove his mettle.

The once brittle looking lower-order has now become quite a formidable force. In captain, Angelo Mathews, the Sri Lankans have a player who is reliable, consistent and capable of clearing the boundary. Thisara Perera’s exponential rise as a lower order batsman gives Sri Lanka the edge in close contests; a role that spinner Sachitra Senanayake has also reprised admirably in recent times.

In the Asia Cup, a rookie Chaturanga de Silva stood up and put in fine performances in his very first tournament. Though, he came into the side as a batsman, his slow bowling abilities were impressive. Lasith Malinga’s toe-crushers are as reliable as ever. Suranga Lakmal displayed significant improvement in his bowling after tying Pakistan down with some disciplined spells, although, the pace bowling department could do with an able partner for the brilliant Malinga. As a makeshift arrangement, Mathews and the team management should be credited for using their resources smartly and bringing the best out of their limited options.

With Sangakkara and Jayawardene still going strong and treating all three formats of the game with equal merit, Sri Lanka are an organised and a stable outfit compared to many other teams, who choose to go in with completely contrasting sides across formats.

While the old warhorses at the helm and free of captaincy duties, the new players entering the fray have found it easier to blend in. It could also be due to the aforementioned stability in personnel that the team management have opted for.

There was a time when Sri Lanka used to rely heavily on Muttiah Muralitharan for wickets. Nowadays though, the setup has quickly moved onto chart a different route to success since the spin legend’s retirement.

Even with the contract issue threatening to derail the team at one point, they have again shunned external issues to the corner and focused on matters on the field.

After braving civil war and bloodshed in the country, the Sri Lankan team went on to win the 1996 World Cup. In comparison, the contract dilemma looks tame and in the shorter formats at least, Sri Lanka are ready to entertain and win hearts with their swashbuckling brand of cricket and should go in as one of the favourites to win the ICC World T20 2014.

(R Vishal is a journalist and an alumni of the Asian College of Journalism. He can be followed on Twitter @vishhell)

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 30, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 2, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 3, 2014 (09:00 IST)   at Khulna

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 5, 2014 (14:05 IST)   at Adelaide

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 6, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Ahmedabad

More

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 15, 2014  at Ahmedabad

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 7, 2014  at Bengaluru

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 30, 2014  at Hyderabad

Match cancelled

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014  at Hamilton

No result

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014  at Dhaka

Bangladesh won by 3 wkts

Photos

Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test

Videos

Tendulkar provides teaser on upcoming book

Live Cricket Score Duleep Trophy Central Zone vs South Zone, final at Delhi Day 3: South Zone lose third wicket of the day as Ali Murtaza traps Vinay Kumar

Live Cricket Score Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test at Abu Dhabi Day 2

Yuvraj Singh — have we seen the last of the man who won India three World Cups?

Mythbusting — the claim that playing for a weaker batting side handicaps a batsman has no basis

Younis Khan’s ban: why the ICC is justified

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 Central Zone Duleep Trophy Duleep Trophy 2014-15 India Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Zone South Zone vs Central Zone Sri Lanka Sri Lanka tour of India 2014

Duleep Trophy 2014 Final: Lokesh Rahul dismissed for a brilliant 185

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: Rohit Sharma admits he was nervous during his comeback against Sri Lankans in warm-up tie

Live Cricket Score: Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test, Day 2 at Abu Dhabi

Live Scorecard: Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test Day 2 at Abu Dhabi

Jesse Ryder included in New Zealand A squad to tour UAE in November

Yuvraj Singh — have we seen the last of the man who won India three World Cups?

Younis Khan continues piling up records for Pakistan

Mythbusting — the claim that playing for a weaker batting side handicaps a batsman has no basis

Younis Khan’s ban: why the ICC is justified

KL Rahul could be opening option for India’s tour to Australia

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

678 Posts | 6 Fans

Video Highlights: Younis Khan century during Pakistan vs Australia 1st Test at Dubai

India A vs Sri Lanka: Fringe players look to impress

NGOs pursue education for all

Dance Basanti from Ungli: Put on your dancing shoes and practice the Basanti move!

Weight Loss Tip #59: Eat oranges to lose weight

Sensex surges 150 points in early trade to regain 27,000-mark

PricewaterhouseCoopers partners Google to offer business solutions to clients

Google X Lab working on nanoparticles to help detect diseases early

Priyanka Chopra has the best no make-up selfie on Instagram, think fans!

Lisa Haydon: I slept off midway while watching the original Shaukeen!

International programme in Animal Husbandry

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here