Com Games Preview: Sri Lanka

In Chamari We Trust

Sri Lanka have had a busy programme of ODIs and T20 Internationals over June/July in preparation for the Commonwealth Games. They toured Pakistan for a 3 ODI, 3 T20I series and then hosted India for the same format mix.

Of the six ODIs Sri Lanka had just one victory, the third match against Pakistan. Of the six T20’s the defeated India in the third match of that series. On both occasions the captain Chamari Athapaththu was a deserving Player of the Match. What it also highlights is a perennial issue in that this team is competitive if Chamari fires, otherwise not.

This is also an aging squad with many players over thirty. That’s fine of course if they are performing but we have seen over these back to back series that there is little to no consistency. It suggests an urgent need for an injection of youth.

Squad:

Chamari Athapaththu (c), Nilakshi de Silva, Kavisha Dilhari, Vishmi Gunaratne, Ama Kanchana, Achini Kulasuriya, Sugandika Kumari, Hasini Perera, Udeshika Prabodhani, Oshadi Ranasinghe, Inoka Ranaweera, Harshitha Madavi, Anushka Sanjeewani, Malsha Shehani, Rashmi Silva.

One bright spot has been Vishmi Gunaratne at the top of the order. She didn’t tour Pakistan but played well enough against India to show promising signs and it’s with the bat that Sri Lanka really need to provide support to the skipper. She can’t do it on her own.

A couple of good innings from Kavisha Dilhari and Harshitha Madavi have shown they have the talent but they must find the level of consistency needed to succeed at the top level.

Another issue I am sure the team is working on is running between the wickets. It was calamitous in Karachi and while it improved a touch at home it is still an area that needs improving.

Bowling Economy

With the ball the key figures will be Oshadi Ranasinghe and Inoka Ranaweera. Oshadi took her best bowling figures of 3-18 with her medium pacers against Pakistan and was always among the wickets across both series. Inoka bowls left-arm slow and is just one wicket away from 50 in this format. Just two more and she is Sri Lanka’s second highest wicket taker after Shashikala Siriwardene. Sugandika Kumari is another handy left-arm slow bowler who will play if Sri Lanka decides they want two.

With pace it’s a bit thin after Oshadi. Sri Lanka have persisted with Ama Kanchana and Achini Kulasuriya but both have economy rates in excess of 8.00 per over and can be quite wayward. They may choose to go with the veteran Udeshika Prabodhani, an honest toiler at best, but at least a far more economical choice, going at 5.31 per over.

As far as fielding goes, the team has been plagued by the dropsies of late but at the same time Nilakshi de Silva has taken some absolute blinders, especially when paroling the boundary. With the gloves Anushka Sanjeewani is reasonably competent.

Winning Options

Sri Lanka is fortunate in a few ways. They will not be meeting either Pakistan or India in Pool B, so none of these teams have seen them for quite some time. The element of surprise.

They have good match fitness which is something New Zealand does not have – and New Zealand are a reconstructed team so Sri Lanka’s own cohesion borne of playing together for twelve recent matches might be just the edge they need.

South Africa is in complete disarray as has been on show against England. They are low on morale and missing key personnel. Again, they might be ripe for plucking. They have defeated South Africa three times before.

One more thing. This is the Commonwealth Games and the team will be carrying the hopes of a nation struggling with other issues at home. That may just be the biggest incentive to Chamari and her team.

Fixtures:

Sri Lanka is in Pool B with England, South Africa and New Zealand:

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