Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sri Lanka's top four...Cause for concern

The Sri Lankans nearly pulled a rabbit out of the hat against the South Africans, with Malinga proving that he is a freak of a bowler who'll tear you apart when you least expect it. He and his fellow bowlers would have sunk the South Africans easily had our batsmen put something decent on the board.

Our batting woes have shifted from the middle order to the top order. In the last four games against a quality opposition, none of our top four batsmen have scored more than 50 runs apart from the 60 odd scored by Tharanga against India at Trinidad.

Putting a finger on the problem is difficult. Mahela is having a horrendous run and probably should consider dropping down the order. If he wasn't the captain his batting slot could actually have been taken by Atapattu. The rest of the middle order is doing too well to knock them out for Attapattu.

Our next game against the Windies will be a test and a must win in the context of the oppositions to come.

Our bowlers have done very well in the recent past, washing away many of our batsmens sins. The pitches to come don't promise to be as good for our kind of play as it was in Guyanna.

Well done Malinga, Murali and Vaas!!

Sana, Upul, Mahela and guys need to rise to the occassion put something on the board for our craftsmen and devil to bowl at.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

What SL had in ’96 that they don’t have now…

The upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 will be the spotlight in coming months and hearts of all Sri Lankans will be stuck on happenings in the Caribbean. All of us believe that Sri Lanka goes in as a strong contender for this tournament with an experienced and well rounded outfit. Our hopes cling to a repeat of 1996.

Yes, presently we do have a strong side but in 1996 we had something that we do not have now – The Element of Surprise. In the Wills World Cup 1996 we came out of nowhere all guns blazing and took the world by storm. To play one day cricket in Super Attacking mode from the start was something we invented and it stunned the rest of the world. Jayasuriya who was almost unknown along with Kalu, the little master or Mad Max – Aravinda, the sedate guiding lights of Gura, Arjuna, Mahanama and Hashan were not expected to knock out the big guns. Even more underrated was the left arm metronome Vaas, the vicious spin of Murali, the gentle floating off breaks of Dharmasena, and the wiles of the part time spinning duo – Aravinda and Sanath. Facing these guys on a sub continent wicket was a challenge that was never taken seriously by the other contenders for the cup.

Back then the world didn’t see us coming. This time round it’s a different story. From Sanath’s blitzkriegs, to Mahela’s and Sanga’s sublime stroke play, to Murali and Vaas’ cunning – the world has seen it all. Plans have been set up. Traps have been laid. Every move and every stroke will be watched and schemed against by other oppositions.

It will be a tough battle out there and our lions will have to fight hard. Sanath will be a big factor, Mahela’s struggle to get into double figures isn’t very encouraging, Sanga will have to shoulder a lot of responsibility. The young guns – Tharanga and Chamara Silva will have to fire.

Our guys will always have to be thinking out there. Sticking to old plans and strategies may cause their downfall. They will have to innovate and look for new things to do as and when they’re challenged by other teams.

Focus should be on each stage, no opposition should be taken lightly – not Bangladesh, not even Bermuda. Complete focus is crucial at all times.

So here’s hoping our guys play great cricket in the Caribbean. Here’s hoping they deal with every opposition they are faced with, positively – in true Sri Lankan style. Our broken land will shed their differences for once and join hands as one to hold up our team. For the seven weeks ahead – health, strength, courage, good luck and God-speed.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Sri Lanka vs India - Head to Head

The 23rd of March will mark Sri Lanka’s first major World Cup challenge as they take on India. It’ll be interesting to take a look at how the teams look head to head. Instead of their past won/lost ratio here’s a comparison of the players. Both teams batting order could change, but this gives a general view of how well the batsmen from both teams have performed. Pay particular attention to the averages away from home.

Batting Averages

It looks like India has the clear upper hand with the bat. Chamara Silva’s average overseas will be slightly blown out with his unbeaten century in India. The following is a head to head with the ball.

Bowling Averages

This is where Sri Lanka has some advantage. Though we are weaker with the bat we are a much better rounded side considering our batting and bowling strength as a whole. India’s weak link is their 5th bowler (this is probably something our batsmen need to make use of). Tendulkar has been names here as the 5th bowler, but it’ll probably include Virandar Sehwag and Yuvraj as well. Both these guys bowling average is nothing much to talk about, so Jayasuriya clearly is a much more advantageous bowler to have. We have to take into account the possibility that Irfan Pathan might play at the expense of one of the fast men or probably of Dinesh Karthik. The latter option will probably beef up India’s bowling.

Summing things up, One Day cricket is all about who performs better on the given day, in which case these statistics will get thrown out the window. The stats however give us a clear view of how strong the teams and individuals themselves are. If our top order fires, we’re in with a good chance. If not we could be in for serious trouble.

The last World Cup encounter between these two teams was in 1999 in Taunton. We received a thorough pasting in that game at the hands of the Indians. They scored 370 odd runs with Ganguly and Dravid making big hundreds.

Sri Lanka need to take things step by step, beating Bangladesh and Bermuda will assure them of a place in the Super 8. So they need to make sure they do that. Beating the Indians would however will add some more confidence and boost our guys to take on the big guns to come.

Source of Statistics - Cricinfo Statsguru -