WT20: Sri Lanka's prospects and the gambler’s guide

By Michael Roberts | March 15, 2016

Sri Lanka's first ICC World Twenty20 2016 match is against Afghanistan on March 17. © Nathan Shanmuganathan

"Dim and Slim." That is my response to the question presented about Sri Lanka's chances of doing well at the World Twenty20 in India. I was going to add another hit-line as caveat: "but that can be a plus — with nothing to lose Lanka can spring surprises."

Shucks! Angelo Mathews has pre-empted my striking point: "If you look at it from the outside, no one will give us a chance. And that is a good thing. We can go out and express ourselves," said the Sri Lanka captain a few days back. Good thinking, good psychology. Good captaincy.

But thinking in hard-headed and uncompromising lines, Sri Lanka's prospects in the World T20 are surely poor and minuscule. The world's gamblers have been quite firm on that point.

$3 India
$5.50 Australia
$6 South Africa
$8 England
$10 New Zealand
$13 West Indies
$17 Pakistan
$21 Sri Lanka
$34 Bangladesh

Afghanistan has not entered the affray when that array of odds and returns was forecast. It will not surprise me if they begin to match Sri Lanka when the odds are finalized and it will not surprise me if they beat Sri Lanka when they meet (depending, as usual, on who wins the toss, the dew factor if any and umpteen imponderables).

The estimates worked out by gambling men are not to be laughed at. The only surprise in this listing is Pakistan's position. They have immense talent these Pakistanis, some sharp pacemen, several all-rounders and several blitzkrieg batsmen. One wonders, therefore, if the gambling syndicate is Hindu or if they reckon the Indian environment will be hostile (in the manner IPL which has carefully sidelined the Pakistanis tout court).

The best path for Sri Lankan patriot gamblers, perhaps, is to place moderate bets on Sri Lanka's individual games (where, however, the odds will be different). Without high expectations and with nothing to lose their adherence to Angelo's philosophy could just reap rewards against, say, the Windies or England or South Africa in ways that will please such die-hard Sri Lankan gamblers.

One cricket buff-reporter in Lanka did indicate that Sri Lanka was lucky to be in a cluster that did not have India and Australia. Yes, true. But as the recent series in South Africa indicated, both those teams have several batsmen whose strike-rate is pretty high, both higher up the order and in the middle ranks. That range of capacity is what makes a difference between victory and loss in fast-moving T20 matches.

Thisara Perera (145.65), Milinda Siriwardena (137.16) and Mathews (120.72) are the only middle-order men with batting strike-rates above 120 (Chandimal's is only 102.82 so his recent success as an opener is a welcome shift).

So, in tough-talk terms, Sri Lanka's prospects are, yes, dim and slim. So the philosophy should be that proposed by Mathews:  go out there and enjoy, nothing to lose, lads.

© Island Cricket


LuvSLCrick's picture
Member since:
12 March 2016
Last activity:
1 year 51 weeks

I agree with Robert's comments to a certain degree that are chances may be 'dim and slim'. The fault lies purely with the selectors and all those at SLC (who are in charge of cricket in Srilanka).

I would have to disagree with Robert with respect to the point being made in this column about SL cricketers not having huge strike rates. Does it matter? One would think that in a format such as this huge strke rates make the difference between winning and loosing. But this is where I beg to differ.

If you look at all the ICC tournaments we(SL team) has taken part in, you would see that we have arguably been the most successful team at this format in almost all the ICC tournaments. Yet, we never had powerful hitters, with very high strike rates. The only time we had a powerful batsmen who could clobber the ball around the park was when Thisara Perera joined the side. Of course, we had Sanath during the ICC world cup held in the UK, but he was almost past his prime then.

Furthermore, if you look at all the runs we scored in all the ICC tournaments, you would realise that we scored on average something around 135/140 of course on an exceptional day and these were very rare we would score 190 and sometimes we use to score around 150/160 when Sanga/Mahela battered well, but these scores were far and few between and in reality a score of 135/140 we would defend.

What has gone horribly wrong for us is that we have lacked imagination and patitence to build a strong side after the great Mahela/Sanga retired. We had two years for the selectors to only just think of the next tour, they only wanted short term goals, to just win the tour or draw so that the our T20 ranking is maintained. No one notices the problem because we were loosing every single tour with respect to the one day and the test matches. The heavy decline should NOT come as a surprise because we havent groomed a side, we havent given the right people the chance to perform, specially for a longer period and we have not built a strong bench. So lack of vision and planning has left us with a massive whole to fill.

The players I'm referring to are the Kithruwan's (Vithanage), Dilshan Munaweera, Akila Dhananjaya, Lakshan Sandakan, the list is endless. These are some of the guys but I could go on and on. We have come to a tournament without the bowlers who have the X factor, even someone like Tharindu Kausal or even Mendis would have been a better fit than the bowlers brought for this tournament. What is Kulasekara's role? What is Sachitra Senanayake's role? These are questions to the administrators and the selectors but frankly they have all let us down!!!

Stormy's picture
Member since:
15 January 2011
Last activity:
15 hours 52 min

Micheal needs to write more please! We may not all agree with what you say but that's not the point.

Interesting read and except for the very fanatical, most of us realized a while back the light at the end of the tunnel was a train and its here now!

Intersting responses from @Luvcrick. Good point on not needing big hitters but its certainly the way the world is going. Also we had a terrific bowling attack with Malinga at his best and effective spinners and defending 150 was possible. Not the case any more I am afraid hence the need to change tactics. Also the game has changed, 300 is now chased down in 50 overs cricket, guys are getting 200 too -all this since we last won the T20. We need to change and when Eng goes hell for leather you know the time has come to change.

What's also worrying is there seems to be under currents in the team which has been around for a while but it hasnt gone away. Malinga questioned his own selection and Mathews doesnt appear to be a willing captain of the t20 side.

The gamblers guide is being kind to have SL that much ahead of Bangladesh in my opinion. I do live in hope from the last 3 finals appearences and looking for one last miracle.

senakad's picture

Thought they have been playing with freedom and having fun all this time!!!! Maybe they need to get more serious!!

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