Mathews injury a crippling blow to an already handicapped bowling attack

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Angelo Mathews has been the main reason why Sri Lanka has been able to play seven front line batsman in ODI cricket. That luxury is at stake when Sri Lanka plays South Africa in their Champions Trophy opener.
 
In the best of times, missing Mathews creates a huge challenge with team balance. These are certainly far from best of times. Fast bowling resources have depleted so much that Sri Lanka were forced to select Test specialist Nuwan Pradeep and Lasith Malinga, who has not bowled more than 24 balls in a match in years! Sri Lanka’s two fully fit front line fast bowlers, Kulesekara and Lakmal, most likely won’t make it to Afghanistan’s ODI team. Sri Lanka’s back-up fast bowling all-rounder Thishara Perera’s form has been such that he’s hardly been trusted to bowl four overs even in a T20 match.
 
If Mathews does not play, and Sri Lanka sticks to a seven-four combination that includes Malinga, it will create two huge risks.  Firstly, who would be the fifth bowler(s)? With venues offering the flattest wickets and short boundaries, Guneratne and Kapugedera combining for 10 overs could spell disaster. Secondly, what if Malinga cannot complete 10 overs?
 
In such a vulnerable scenario, to play Thishara Perera as one of the four front line bowlers will be suicidal. Instead, Sri Lanka will have to consider playing six specialist batsman, Thishara as the all-rounder at seven, and go with four front-line bowlers.
 
With top teams already preferring to leave out wrist spinners on flat wickets and smaller grounds, Sandakan is an unlikely starter. Seekkuge Prasana and Nuwan Kulesekara can provide depth to the weakened batting line-up.
 
Playing seven front line batsman makes no sense when it’s at the compromise of depleting the bowling attack so much that even a 400 plus score is not defendable. All cricket fans would be hoping that the Sri Lankans will commit to playing positive cricket and field a balanced side.  
 
Likely XI if Mathews will not play:
Tharanga, Dickwella, Mendis, Chandimal, Guneratne, Kapugedera, Thishara Perera, Prasana, Kulesekara, Lakma;, Malinga
 

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