“It has been the same story for the last 3-4 years, there is no development that has happened” – Muttiah Muralitharan
After another massive defeat Down Under, Sri Lanka’s legends have virtually given up hope of seeing Lanka on the road to resurrection. Sri Lanka have lost six of their seven Tests this season and has a pathetic record across formats since Chandika Hathurusinga officially took charge in January 2018. The problem is at the grassroots level – not enough talent is coming up the ranks. And if occasionally a few talented players do make it to the national side, they fail to make the transformation to the pressures and demands of international cricket.
Sri Lanka has a terrible record in Test cricket since the start of 2018.
Sri Lanka lurk just ahead of Test newcomers Ireland and Afghanistan in terms of win percentage, a total of 4 wins and seven losses in 14 Tests. They are sixth in the ICC rankings but aren’t far off going further down the ladder. Their state in limited overs cricket – both ODIs and T20Is – isn’t great either!
In ODIs, the Island Nation have lost 13 of their 20 matches since 2018 with a win percentage of 30%. Australia are the only side to have fared worse – they are going through their worst phase in history – certainly in ODI cricket.
The situation is slightly better in T20Is with four wins in nine matches but they still lurk in the bottom half of the table in terms of win percentage.
What pegs back Sri Lanka is not one particular department. They have been lacking across disciplines. Batting has been exposed like a sore thumb in the Australian series and it is no surprise that most Sri Lankan batsmen have struggled in the longest format of the game since 2018.
Kusal Mendis and Karunaratne have averages above 40 but the other top-middle order has struggled with low scores and inconsistency. It has been left to Mathews to rescue the team from hopeless situations time and again but fitness concerns have dented his participation of late.
In ODIs, things are more perplexing. Their no.7 batsman, Thisara Perera, is their top scorer since 2018 with 639 runs at 42.6. No other batsman – except Mathews, again - averages over 40. Most of the top-order average in the 20s or mid 30s – these are extremely poor numbers for an international side.
The Sri Lankan batsmen have comparatively done reasonably well in T20I cricket – in particular they have impressed with their strike rate but there haven’t been enough big scores by the top-middle order – which has cost the team badly.
The bowling in Tests showed some potential and positives especially after the West Indies tour, but constant injuries to front-line pacers and lack of consistency in performances have dented the numbers.
Since 2018, Lakmal (36 wickets) and Dilruwan Perera (52 wickets) are among the stand-out bowlers for Lanka. Akila Dananjaya and Lakshan Sandakan have stepped up with fine performances at home but the fast bowling is an area of concern. Kasun Rajitha, Dushmantha Chameera and now Vishwa Fernando and Chamika Karunaratne - none have appeared a great pick so far.
In ODIs and T20Is, Dananjaya has been a standout performer with 28 wickets in 16 ODIs and 7 in 7 T20Is. The next best is Thisara Perera whose performances with the bat and ball, both, have stood out in ODI cricket. Lasith Malinga roared back into the side in the Asia Cup but has appeared listless of late.
Hathurusinga’s reign has coincided with some terrible performances. With the World Cup and the World Test Championship barely a few months away, Sri Lanka need to find some inspiration and translate it into performance on the field – else they will find themselves clubbed with the minnows with stronger teams steamrolling them more often than not.
Akila DananjayaChandika Hathurasinghalakshan sandakanmarvan atapattumuttiah muralitharanrussell arnoldsri lankasri lanka cricketsri lanka in numberssri lanka recordsri lanka testsThisara Perera
First Published: February 5, 2019, 10:41 AM IST