Kumar Sangakkara has opted out out of the third Test against Pakistan and Sri Lankan batting felt the heat © AFP
Kumar Sangakkara has opted out out of the third Test against Pakistan and Sri Lankan batting felt the heat © AFP

In Sri Lanka’s first outing sans Kumar Sangakkara, their batsmen huffed and puffed to a modest total at the end of Day 1 of the third Test against Pakistan. Shiamak Unwalla feels the abject but unsurprising slump is worrying for Sri Lanka.

It was never going to be easy without the adhesive presence of Kumar Sangakkara. Even with him in the mix, Sri Lanka have not been a powerful batting side since Mahela Jayawardene called time on his Test career. Angelo Mathews has gone slightly off the boil in recent months, and no other batsman in the line-up commands the respect of opposition bowlers. READ: A ‘low’ for Rangana Herath

Sangakkara has been a force by himself in the last couple of years. He has been backed up well by Angelo Mathews and Mahela Jayawardene, but the rest have been rather pedestrian, usually providing backup to one of the three. Below is a list of the top five run-getters for Sri Lanka in Tests since 2013:

Name

Period

M

R

HS

Ave

100s

50s

Kumar Sangakkara

2013-2015

17

2260

319

70.62

8

11

Angelo Mathews

2013-2015

19

1703

160

65.5

3

10

Kaushal Silva

2013-2015

16

1181

139

42.17

2

8

Mahela Jayawardene

2013-2014

12

1140

203*

54.28

3

7

Dimuth Karunaratne

2013-2015

15

1084

152

40.14

2

5

It is hardly surprising that Sangakkara and Mathews are the top two names on this list. The only other man to average over 50 in this period is predictably Jayawardene. Barring Kaushal Silva and Dimuth Karunaratne, no other Sri Lankan batsman has scored more than 850 runs in this period. READ: Lahiru Thirimanne yet to cement place in Test cricket

Sangakkara has almost been  a one-man army, scoring runs at a Bradmanesque average. The others have mostly batted around him, while the bowling attack has stood up and made its presence felt.

Silva, Karunaratne, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dinesh Chandimal, and Kithuruwan Vithanage have all got extended runs in the team, but barring the occasional spark from Silva and Karunaratne, there has been little to see. That Sri Lanka have won as much as they have over the last couple of years is largely due to the Sangakkara-Mathews-Jayawardene troika and the bowlers.

Name

Period

M

W

BBI

BBM

Ave

Econ

SR

5WI

10WM

Rangana Herath

2013-2015

16

84

9/127

14/184

29.83

2.72

65.7

7

2

Dilruwan Perera

2014-2015

8

40

5/69

8/129

30.9

3.11

59.6

3

0

Shaminda Eranga

2013-2014

11

37

4/49

6/226

33.62

3.07

65.5

0

0

Suranga Lakmal

2013-2015

12

30

4/78

6/105

41.13

3.08

79.9

0

0

Dhammika Prasad

2013-2015

9

25

5/50

7/135

32.72

3.5

56

1

0

Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera, and the pace bowlers like Shaminda Eranga, Suranga Lakmal, Dhammika Prasad, Nuwan Pradeep, and now Dushmantha Chameera have ensured that the bowling attack is in good hands.

Herath — who is also at the twilight of his career — made sure Sri Lanka did not worry too much about life after Muttiah Muralitharan. Unfortunately for Sri Lanka, they have not yet discovered a replacement for the fabled Sangakkara-Jayawardene duo. Their capitulation against Pakistan on Day One of the third Test was not entirely unexpected, but it is time the warning bells are rung hard.

Sri Lanka will only enjoy the services of Sangakkara for two more Tests. The rest of their batting will need to dig extremely deep to try and cover for his absence when that day eventually arrives.

(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek who loves cricket more than cricketers. His Twitter handle is @ShiamakUnwalla)