Shocking stats reflect the decline of Sri Lanka since the 2011 World Cup

Tillakaratne Dilshan’s average of 17.43 highlights his poor run of form… In the last 16 ODIs, he has been dismissed seven times in single digits including six in a row © AFP

 

By Nishad Pai Vaidya

 

Tillakaratne Dilshan’s time at the helm hasn’t been the happiest as Sri Lanka have failed to bring home silverware since the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011. In cricket’s biggest event, the team from the Emerald Isle looked like a formidable unit that had the right balance to go all the way. However, since the campaign that ended in heartbreak on the final day of the championship at Mumbai, Sri Lanka have been ordinary, inconsistent and a shadow of their former dominant self.

 

There are a few changes in their one-day set-up since the World Cup. Muttiah Muralitharan is a major absentee from their one-day plans as he has called it a day from international cricket. Chamara Kapugedera and Thilan Samraweera, the two batsmen haven’t played a One-Day International (ODI) since the World Cup final. Then there have been others who were a part of the Sri Lankan World Cup squad but have been in and out of the team since. Thus, the youngsters such as Dinesh Chandimal, Jeevan Mendis and Seekugge Prasanna have found a good run in the side.

 

In one of my previous articles, I wrote extensively about Sri Lanka’s struggle in Test cricket was because of their batting struggles. The story is similar in ODIs as their batsmen haven’t been able to set challenging targets or been able to chase consistently.

 

Here are the Sri Lankan innings total in ODIs after the 2011 World Cup:

 

Series

Batting First

Batting Second

vs England

309*, 174

121, 249*, 252

vs Australia

191, 208, 286*, 132

213*

vs Pakistan

131, 235*, 218

236, 174

 

*victorious efforts

 

The numbers presented in the table clearly illustrate Sri Lanka’s batting failures. There have been too many mediocre scores and it doesn’t reflect well on a team that is considered as one of the best in one-day cricket. Batting first, they have failed to cross the 200 barrier on four out of nine occasions. While chasing they have lost the plot quite a few times and have ended up pressing the self destruction button. Somehow, they manage to implode and lose wickets in a heap. The fourth ODI against Pakistan at Sharjah bears testimony to that fact.

 

The second set of statistics we should look at is the individual performances of each batsman. Sri Lanka have a very strong top order and a solid middle order, but they haven’t been able to live up to that reputation in recent times as the scores discussed above indicate. That failure can be easily attributed to the lack of consistency of some of their batsmen.

 

Following are the relevant numbers:

 

Player

M

Runs

Avge

100s

50s

Tillakaratne Dilshan

16

279

17.43

0

2

Mahela Jayawardene

15

636

42.40

1

6

Kumar Sangakkara

15

567

37.80

0

5

Dinesh Chandimal

13

297

24.75

1

1

Angelo Mathews

15

375

31.25

0

2

Jeevan Mendis

14

164

18.22

0

0

Upul Tharanga

10

291

29.10

1

1

 

*since the England tour 2011

 

The most worrying figures are that of Dilshan, Chandimal and Tharanga. The opening combination of Tharanga and Dilshan haven’t been able to replicate their heroics of the past. Dilshan’s average of 17.43 highlights his poor run of form as he hasn’t been able to play the long knocks. In fact, in the 16 games he has been dismissed seven times in single digits, six of which came in a row in England and Scotland. Since then he has got the starts but hasn’t been able to convert them into those typical destructive match-winnings efforts.

 

On the other hand, Tharanga’s average has only been boosted due to that hundred and the half century. Apart from that he hasn’t done anything of note and there have been times when he has wasted too many deliveries upfront. A strike rate of 68.63 (in the period of consideration) is not the stuff one expects from an opener in an ODI.

 

Chandimal displayed his exceptional talent in England. However, he hasn’t lived up to that promise since. In the series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates, he has been bogged down by the pressure created by dot balls. He is young and learning the ropes of international cricket but considering the quality he displayed in England, he should learn from his mistakes soon.

 

The old firm of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene continue to be talismanic. The others need to learn a thing or two from these great players as they keep the scoreboard ticking without taking any apparent risks.

 

Angelo Mathews, the all-rounder has done well and his numbers do not reflect his efforts. He comes lower down the order and plays brisk cameos. He has scored quite a few 20s and 30s. His fifties have come at crucial times where there has been a collapse and they were looking to rebuild.

 

Jeevan Mendis has a couple of good knocks to show but there are too many single digits in his record which have pulled his average down. As a lower-order batsman, he doesn’t get enough time in the middle and the best thing he can do, in such cases, is to stay there till the end.

 

Sri Lanka’s next assignment is in South Africa and they would hope for more consistency and better results. It wouldn’t be easy for them to succeed in the Rainbow Nation but they need to change the direction of their performance graph and the process needs to being immediately. The captain should be the first one to up the ante and lead from the front. If required, they can promote Jayawardene a little higher as it may provide stability to the top order.

 

(Nishad Pai Vaidya, a 21-year-old law student, is a club and college-level cricketer. His teachers always complain, “He knows the stats and facts of cricket more than the subjects we teach him.”)