A look at where we went wrong

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Some would say it's deja vu, others bad luck, but once again we stand as finalists and not winners in the aftermath of yet another world cup. After steamrolling through the competition it seems so frustrating to fall at the final hurdle time and time again when we know we have the ability to win. But there are some vert clear reasons for this, as well as some positives.

What went wrong:

1. The batting order is completely wrong.
Sanga, Mahela and Dilshan are world class batsmen, who, individually, can take apart any score; and our middle has, in my opinion, been the strongest line up for a long time. However when we stack our best 3 right at the top, they will tend to score the bulk of the runs, leading to large victory margins; but when it comes to tougher matches, if our top 3 fail to fire then the rest of the order have not had enough confidence gaining experience to keep up the pace and pull through for the win. Therefore Sanga, Mahela and Dilshan need to be staggered much more effectively. My ideal order would be:

1.TM Dilshan
2. L Thirrimanna / D Munaweera
3. K Sangakkara
4. J Mendis (can float)
5. M Jayawardena
6. A Matthews
7. T Perera (can float)
8. N Kulasekara (can float)
9. L Malinga
10. A Mendis
11. A Dhanajaya

With this order, while it may not be the strongest to start with, it will grow in confidence and ability to become a formidable unit.

2. The criminal underuse of Dinesh Chandimal
Chandimal has performed at the top levels of cricket, and he did seem to hit some form towards the end of the SLPL, but for unkown reasons he was not selected for the starting XI for any of the matches. In my opinion he should have been in the line up instead of Thirrimanna as he has a style more akin to a pinch hitter compared to Thirrimanna who is an opener, and he is better at clearing the fence and hitting the big shots. At his age we cannot afford to make a Kapugedara out of him, he is far too valuable.

3. The misplacement of Lahiru Thirrimanna
For a batsman who has opened the innings for Sri Lanka in various formats, the position given to Thirrimanna was baffling. He bats like an opnener, so putting him down the order was a mistake; that postion would be better suited to someone like Chandimal.  He should bat instead at the top of the order, coupled with a more experienced batsman, so as to develop his confidence and ability.

4. The misuse of Thisara Perera
He hardly bowled thoughout the tournament, not even touching the ball during the final, and he bats so late down the order that the window of opportunity he gets is not large enough to make a decent impact on the game. Judging by the way  he was used, his spot could have been better filled by an extra batsman.  He is able to score runs, getting a solid 72 in the SLPL as well as a good knock in the 2011 world cup final. Perfect as a pinch hitter, he should have been brought earlier up the order as a floater, depending on the run rate. Instead he came in much too late to make an impact. He also should have been given the ball when it became clear that the West Indians had worked out Malinga; it was clear that they had planned for Malinga, but not neccessarily for Perera.

Nevertherless, there are some positives to take away from the world T20:

1. Akila Dhanajaya
Dhanajaya has had the year of his life, bursting on to the cricket scene from out of the blue, impressing in the SLPL then proving his worth against the best at the international stage. He is definitely one to watch for the future, and provided he is managed well and not over-exposed, with the wealth of experience and knowledge that surrounds him, he should have a bright and properous career ahead.

2. Nuwan Kulasekara
Once again Kulasekara showed us why he is one of our most underrated yet vital players. He has been consistently amazing with the ball and has performed incredibly with the bat when called upon. I believe that he was underused  in the bowling department, and should be floated in the order due to his hitting ability. We all remember how he rescued Sri Lanka when our top order collapsed. I also believe that his temperament and cool mindset makes him a canditate for vice-captaincy or even captaincy if Matthews is lacking in maturity.

3. Munaweera and Mendis
Both may have not been amazing or particularly outstanding, but they have bolstered Sri Lanka's ranks and show great promise and potential. They will have time to gain maturity and confidence before the next tournaments in 2014 and 2015.

Overall, Sri Lanka is strong enough; we can win, and we deserve to, but fundamental structural errors are holding us back from greatness. I don't believe that anyone in the team was bought out, that would only occur in the selection process, but we need to grow as a team towards 2015, so that when Mahela, Sanga and Dilshan retire we are not left in a void of inability and inexperience.

Comments

shahid_Maradana's picture

yes i totally agree, Kula or thirimane shud have been sent up wen dilshan went for a duck, its a 20 over game, ther is no issue on loosing 2 0r 3 wickets, if we can score around 45+ in the first 6-7 overs. it good mahela stepped down as captain. hope the new captain tries all his tactics.

Marcian's picture
Member since:
8 December 2010
Last activity:
36 weeks 4 hours

The batting lineup wasn't flawed at all, in my opinion. Mahela was the highest scorer of the tournament. The top three batsmen have to bat at the top in T20s and make maximum use of the power-plays and beyond.

We made the final didn't we with this batting lineup, a loss in the final doesn't mean it was wrong. Perhaps Thisara Perera could have come in earlier but one must realize that his range of shots is very limited.

There wasn't anything wrong with the team composition either: Dinesh Chandimal was horribly out of form, he only made a solitary fifty in the SLPL and that too opening the innings in the last match. He always struggles at home but is superb overseas.

I agree with all your positives, though.

Marcian's picture
Member since:
8 December 2010
Last activity:
36 weeks 4 hours

The match was lost in the 13th over. I had a gut feeling when Malinga was given the ball that he might get walloped. I could not understand why Mahela persisted with him after he got clobbered for 24 runs in his previous over.

He has too many off days of late. Fact is a fact: 54 runs cost us the match on a difficult pitch. 115-120 runs would have been gettable.

Malinga: 4 overs, 54 runs at 13.5

The rest: 16 overs, 83 runs at 5.1

His fielding was atrocious as well (except final). I know Malinga fans will be hurt but it's the truth and its bitter.

Sakala Bujang's picture
Member since:
8 April 2011
Last activity:
27 weeks 2 days

Marcian, I understand your point that we need to give the strongest batsmen the best chance to bat, but there is also the flipside. Bowlers look to take early wickets, and in Sri Lanka's case if the top order can be gotten out cheaply then we get stuck in a rut for the rest of the innings.
Completely agree with your points on Malinga, he has become lax in other aspects of the game because he knows he is so dangerous with the ball.

Stormy's picture
Member since:
15 January 2011
Last activity:
2 days 15 hours

Interesting analysis and my response follows the authors points.

1. This batting order won all games and was awfully impressive. Why would you change whats worked so well, in the final. Also your best batters must face the maximum overs which is why SA and Ind missed the cut, so no issues with the batting line up. Put it another way, not many T20 games are won by the middle order, the top order must do the job and the best batters must be at the top

2. I felt the same way but I think Chanid's form was a serious concern as is his struggles at home - what is that all about. How can a guy who looked a class act in Aus struggle at home. Also see next point.

3. I felt the same way but I think Lahiru was insurance for a top order failure. If that were the case you need a reliable steady head which he has shown in the one day cricket. Coupled with Chandi's struggles Lahiru had to play. Your insurnace cannot be an out of form uncertain option.

4. I dont get this either. The guy has been sensational with the ball in all forms and think he bowled ONE over. Also he wasnt utilized as a pinch hitter but then again SL won all games so who are we to question.

1. Akila is promising and for a 18 year old, though he showed plenty of metal and ability. Like to study more of his variations but cetainly a highlight.

2. Yes seriously underated performer who has kept improving but doesnt come accross as a leader. More a back seat chap who will give it all. Yes his batting is underated. Hate to bring this up but he dropped (difficult) but vital catches in the last two WC finals!

3. Mendis offers plenty I reckon and needs opportunities. He is a rare talent in being a batter who can bowl more than useful legspin. I wonder if he is in test reckoning? Munaweera looked undercooked to me. Only seen him once against SA so not sure if that is a fair call but he looked lost in that game.

Sakala Bujang's picture
Member since:
8 April 2011
Last activity:
27 weeks 2 days

I'd like to see Jeevan play test format, but with Thirrimanna, Paranavitana and Samaraweera it may not be something we'll see for some time. But he should make a solid addition to the ODI squad.

I can see your point about Munaweera being a little undercooked, but to be fair he only played in 1 or 2 games, and judging by his SLPL form he does have some potential.

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