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Sri Lanka’s youngsters have to contribute to take pressure off Sangakkara, Jayawardene and Dilshan

Sri Lanka’s youngsters have to contribute to take pressure off Sangakkara, Jayawardene and Dilshan

Statistics show that Mahela Jayawardene (left), Kumar Sangakkara (centre) and Tillakaratne Dilshan have been Sri Lanka’s top run-scorers in One-Day International (ODI) victories since the 2011 World Cup © Getty Images

For years, Kumar Sangakkara, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardene have been Sri Lanka’s mainstays. As the veteran troika is ageing, there doesn’t seem to be anyone who would take on the mantle. Nishad Pai Vaidya looks at the crucial numbers.

Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Tillkaratne Dilshan are the impregnable sentinels of the Sri Lankan batting. One or more of the troika invariably deliver to prop the Lankan batting. Their batting woes stem from their over-reliance on the experienced firm as the tyros haven’t shown the desired consistency. It is a worrying situation for a team that is at a very critical stage as the stalwarts are looking to pass the baton to the next generation.

Since the end of the 2011 World Cup, Sri Lanka have introduced a few young batsmen with the hope of grooming them for the future. Some of them have shown flashes of brilliance, but haven’t been able to sustain it in the long run. Here are the figures of the Sri Lankan batsmen post the 2011 World Cup:

Player M Runs Ave SR 100s 50s HS
Kumar Sangakkara 54 2101 43.77 76.48 4 13 134*
Tillakaratne Dilshan 59 1914 37.52 82.53 6 7 160*
Mahela Jayawardene 55 1689 35.93 82.47 1 14 144
Dinesh Chandimal 53 1276 30.38 73.75 1 9 105*
Angelo Mathews 55 1121 33.96 78.72 0 9 80*
Upul Tharanga 42 1081 27.71 72.74 1 9 111
Lahiru Thirimanne 41 785 30.19 70.84 1 5 102*
Nuwan Kulasekara 49 451 16.10 91.29 0 2 73

 
This table proves that the bulk of the scoring has been done by the three senior men. Take Sangakkara, Dilshan and Jayawardene out of the equation and there is not much to write about the rest. They have hit 11 out of the 14 hundreds Sri Lanka have recorded in the last two years. Also, they are the only ones who average over 35 — which is generally the acceptable number. Sangakkara is the leader by some distance as he averages over 40 and has scored more than 2000 runs.

Narrowing these figures down to the games won by Sri Lanka, it becomes even clearer that the famed trio is the key to their fortunes. Here are the relevant statistics:

Player M Runs Ave SR 100s 50s HS
Tillakaratne Dilshan 24 1066 50.76 83.87 4 5 119*
Mahela Jayawardene 22 988 61.75 92.76 1 9 144
Kumar Sangakkara 22 887 49.27 83.13 2 5 134*
Dinesh Chandimal 20 635 45.35 75.50 1 4 105*
Lahiru Thirimanne 19 409 40.9 80.19 1 4 102*
Upul Tharanga 15 378 29.07 76.98 1 2 111
Angelo Mathews 23 369 46.12 90.22 0 2 80*
Thisara Perera 18 165 23.57 121.32 0 1 69*
Nuwan Kulasekara 21 98 16.33 124.05 0 1 58*

Yet again, Sangakkara, Jayawardene and Dilshan are at the helm in this table. While the other batsmen do fair better in victorious causes, the trio are a cut above the rest and their class is there to see. What this table also shows is that Sri Lanka haven’t won enough since the last World Cup. In fact, their record is appalling for a team of their calibre.

Sri Lanka have played 62 ODIs since the last World Cup and have only won 25 of those contests. The win percentage is a shade over 40 as they have struggled to stamp their true class. This is a matter of concern for them as the three seniors aren’t getting any younger and Sri Lanka have to play for the next World Cup, which is only two years away.

It is time the likes of Lahiru Thirimanne, Dinesh Chandimal and Kushal Perera show more consistency. Perhaps, a promotion up the order may help in that regard as that may give some of them more deliveries to play. Perera is already at the top, but Chandimal and Thirimanne haven’t had a long run there. If the seniors drop down a spot or two and allow these youngsters to have a go on a more regular basis, it might actually help them. The tri-series in the West Indies is the ideal opportunity to do that. Dilshan’s absence may actually allow Upul Tharanga to cement his spot as an opener.

However, there still is hope that Sangakkara, Jayawardene and Dilshan would play the 2015 World Cup. Which is why, they may be backing them to do the job upfront and trusting their strengths.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)

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