Preview to the T 20 WORLD CUP
Losing streak “HOODOO’ smashed, time to focus on T20 WC 2021
by Sunil Thenabadu
In a philanthropic gesture, Sri Lanka’s white-ball skipper Dasun Shanaka has donated his Man-of-the-Series prize money ( Rs 200,000/-) won in the SLC Invitational T20 League, to the Colombo South Teaching Hospital in Kalubowila.It had been brought to his notice that the national cricketers are planning to set up a special unit at the Kalubowila Teaching Hospital with a fixed ventilator for the benefit of the COVID-19 patients.Dasun Shanaka had confessed that it is the responsibility to contribute for worthy causes like this as the situation of the country is critical.
The newly knit Sri Lanka’s T20 team recently triumphed the series 2-1 in the recently completed white ball series over the formidable Indian team all with IPL experience including five Test players. In order to recognize this triumph, the Executive Committee of Sri Lankan Cricket had awarded a sum of US$ 100,000 to the national team.
Before our team leaves to Oman and Abu Dhabi in October for the World T 20 the South Africa tour was scheduled in September for a three match ODI and T 20 series from the 2nd to the 14th September , all matches were played once more at the R Premadasa International cricket stadium in Colombo.
Before the commencement of the Indian white ball series a five bench judge panel elected for the inquiry by the SLC authorities into the breach of the Bio-Bubble, by the trio Kusal Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella and Dhanushka Gunatilleke during the tour of England. The fine imposed was rupees ten million each and handing over a one-year ban from International cricket. It is learnt that the trio had appealed to the SLC authorities to reduce the ban and to reduce the fines imposed.
Prior to the commencement of the SLC invitation T 20 League tournament the selectors had named a 30-man squad for the T 20 World Cup to be held in Abu Dhabi commencing on the 24th October. Of course, in phase one between the 18th October and the 23rd October three teams out of Sri Lanka, Namibia, Netherlands and Ireland will play each other where only three teams will to go to super league one and two.
The SLC invitation T 20 completed where most key players had fared well with consistent performances which augurs well for our players having lived up to expectations. The white ball series with touring South Africans was scheduled between the 2nd and the 14th after which the selection committee would select the squad for the forthcoming T 20 World Cup in October.
Despite losing the above key three players Kusal, Niroshan and Dhanushka the selectors did not panic in selecting a squad for the white ball series against India as there was potential, needing only to deliver. The success of the T 20 triumph over India was regrettably not highlighted in the local media. It needs to be reminded that all international teams have had their lean periods who had come out to perform well to their peak subsequently. It should be emphasised that all international teams consisted of famous skilled cricketers including Sri Lanka in relation to the teams of today in the decades of the 1980, 1990 and 2000.Hence the standards of the present cricketers worldwide are much lower in the present era
The whole team contributed towards this historic series win which baffled and dumbfounded all Indian commentators and sports journalists who are usually biased having foretold with utter prejudice predicting whitewashing Sri Lanka in both white ball contests. Although it was said it was a second-string Indian outfit it was not so,
as all were veterans in Indian Premier League tournaments, about five had played Test cricket. But on the other hand we had fewer Test players with many of our players v.i.z.,Charith Asalantha, Praveen Jayawickrema were debutantes for T 20 format. It is regretted that this triumph in the T20 series was not highlighted in the local media at a time when the losing streak ‘hoodo’ was broken sans the luxury of the suspended three senior players opting to omit many other senior players. This is ample testimony that no cricketer is indispensable.
It should be emphasized that the winning team played as a determined unit fielding enthusiastically taking some blinders while fielding.
With the T 20 World Cup approaching the white ball series with South Africa was vital to gain more experience.
The postponed meeting chaired by sports minister with the participation of past captains and administrators of SLC was finally held on the 2nd August. According to sources the need was to implement a short term plan to win matches ,the present situation ,future of Sri Lanka’s cricket were taken for discussion. Citing the recent losses several past captains had also raised concerns questioning the current selection criteria. The minister of sports had tweeted that a fruitful discussion was held which augurs well for our cricket.
Perished morale of our cricketers demands enhancement in T20 WC
It is learnt that former Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene, the successful coach of the winning Mumbai Indians team in the IPL has been recently appointed as a consultant, is ‘eligible’ to attend the selection committee meetings on the World Cup tour, according to of the Technical Advisory Committee of the SLC. As the T 20 World Cup squad has already selected Mahela will be involved in selecting the final eleven .He will be officially be a part of the squad ,his knowledge and expertise would be utilized in setting out new strategies when needed. However, unfortunately his expertise would be for a short stint of just one week during the qualifying round, would not be available beyond the preliminary round against Namibia, Ireland and Netherlands owing to his commitments with the U 19 team.
The whitewash sustained at the hands of the more formidable T 20 Proteas team was attributed due to the backfiring of the decision to prepare wickets to suit our bowlers. Also, as our batsmen were used to bat on wickets in the SLC sponsored invitation T 20 tournament on more batting friendly wickets at the Pallekelle International Stadium.On those wickets the ball had come onto the bat. This was revealed as the main justification for the whitewash was lamented by the skipper Dasun Shanaka at the post match press conference.
The Sri Lankan T 20 team comprised most who were included in ODI team which beat South African to gain a series win after eight years drought in a ‘bilateral’ series. Until the beginning of this series the tally stood at 20 loses to only five wins. With this win Sri Lanka added 10 more super league points.
After the fruitful conclusion of the SLC invitation white ball tournament, focus on fitness, the endeavors of coaching staff and selectors the newly knit outfit corroborated an effective series win in the ODI series concluded against the 5th ranked ODI team the Proteas.
The 15 man squad for the T20 WC: Dasun Shanaka (c),Dhananjaya De Silva,Kusal Janith Perera,Dinesh Chandimal,Avishka Fernando,Bhanuka Rajapaksa,Charith Asalanka,Wannidu Hasaranga De Silva,Dushmantha Chameera ,Chamika Karunaratne,Nuwan Pradeep, Kamindu Mendis,Praveen Jayawickrema,Maheesh Theekshana.Minod Bhanuka:
The team for the forthcoming T20 WC has already been selected recalling wicket keeper Minod Bhanuka, also a reliable left handed batsmen to the squad as a replacement if needed for Kusal Janith Perera who has recovered from a hamstring injury. Four more players v.i.z.,Pathum Nissanka, Ashen Bandara,Ramesh Mendis, and Lakshan Sandakan have been included to the original squad.
In an email sent to former Sri Lanka skipper legendary Anura Tennakoon a septuagenarian like the writer, under the caption ‘Sagging morale of our cricket curved after the whitewash by the Proteas’ an appropriate reply sent read as” Hi Sunil, although the 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Proteas was disheartening, I feel the players will be able to regain their morale if they can win all the qualifying games prior to main matches. Thereafter an early win will further uplift their morale and enable them to be competitive in the rest of the games. If we fail to qualify it will be a disaster for SL Cricket. Regards, Anura T”
At the post match media conferences Skipper Dasun Shanaka had to answer to an offensive onslaught posed by media personnel. He said the Proteas were more skilled bowled in good areas. The pitches prepared backfired but exploited by the Proteas having a better spin combination in ‘chinaman’ exponent Tabraiz Shamsi, Keshav Maharaj and Aiden Markaram.The former is currently world’s number one ranked T20 Bowler. The trio strangled our batsmen not allowing our batsmen to settle down by bamboozling them. Of course ,he admitted that many of our batsmen were dismissed as soft dismissals after making rash strokes. He claimed that the batsmen should adopt how to bat in the ‘power play’ overs where the strike should be rotated, then plan out the run rate in the next phases and thereafter in the death overs.He added all are aware of our batting strengths. He also attributed to the fact that rain and dew factor which hampered our spinners in gripping the ball.In contrast he emphasized that Bangladesh having prepared wickets to suit their bowlers facilitated in whitewashing NZ and Australia as hosts.
He also added for a question posed that there were four sets of openers in the last four T 20 international hence as a strategic plan in the forthcoming T 20 fixtures against Oman the same X1 would play with fixed batting positions in the run up to the T20 WC .He said this team will not be changed. Paceman Dushmantha Chameera and leg spin googly bowler Hasaranga de Silva are to play in the IPL which would be a terrific, to have an enhanced know-how to both before the T20 WC. Wannidu Hasaranga under Virat Kholi’s captaincy did play in a few IPL matches for Royal Challengers Bangalore.After failing to take wickets in the first couple of matches in the final match against Chennai Super Kings conceded forty runs in his four overs without taking a wicket. However, he would come good when it comes to the W T 20 matches.
At a preceding post-match media briefing Skipper Dasun Shanaka had to answer to a bombardment of interrogations posed by media personnel. He was happy the team was united as a team. The success achieved he attributed for the environment he had created among all players whether junior or senior to express opinion as hitherto not tolerated. This made all players to be free and united. When questioned about the role of batting coach Grant Flower ,Dasun added he did not do anything erroneous.
Despite the T20 whitewash by the formidable Proteas all fans and administrators should be happy as our cricket specially the white ball version is on a winning stretch, splitting the losing streak ‘Hoodo’ which in now only history both in the T 20 and ODI formats. It is time to nudge on in the same vein as we performed against the formidable Indians in the forthcoming T 20 men’s World Cup scheduled to begin on the 24th October All Sri Lankan fans no doubt would be optimistic about the team performing well.
There had been some unscrupulous media personnel levelled that some players in the SL national team who played in the T 20 series against the Proteas did not fully commit themselves or deliberately under performed. This was totally refuted by the SLC authorities as no such complaint was received by the team management.
It is heartening to understand that the Minister of Sports Namal Rajapaksa has given the green light to the selectors to go ahead with their selection criteria sans interference from outside sources. The Minister had in early August confessed that discussions with related authorities, past captains had concluded fruitfully.
Sri Lanka left for T20 World Cup with confidence on Monday4th OctoberSri Lanka left for T20 World Cup with confidence on Monday4th October
Sri Lanka’s white-ball Captain Dasun Shanaka expressed his confidence of making an impact at the ICC T20 World Cup as the team left for Oman for a two-match series on the 5th October..
Sri Lanka’s departure was originally scheduled for Sunday but had to be put off by one day due to a cyclone situation in Oman where all flights to and from Muscat were suspended due to bad weather.
Shanaka believes their two T20 games in Oman will be good preparation and will provide the opportunity to test their skill level ahead of the more important event in the United Arab Emirates.
He thinks the two matches in Oman will be important for us because that will give us a chance to warm-up and acclimatise to the conditions before the mega event.
Shanaka also insisted that their plan is to move up step by step and to top the group by winning all their qualifying round games before the main tournament.
He confessed they have had some good preparations at home with their confidence is very high , want to progress step by step and win all three matches in the qualifying round.
Sri Lanka will play Oman in two T20 matches on October 7 and 9 in Al Amerat before they travel to the UAE for the World Cup Qualifiers.
Sri Lanka will play Bangladesh and Papua New Guinea in the official warm-up games ahead of the World Cup, which starts on October 17th.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s two official warm-up games, organised by the ICC will be played on October 12th against Bangladesh and on October 14th against Papua New Guinea. Sri Lanka will start their World Cup campaign in the first-round – Group ‘A’ against Namibia on October 18th followed by games against Ireland (20) and Netherlands (22).
The second round of the tournament – the Super12 stage – will get underway in Abu Dhabi on 23 October, with the Group 1 contest between Australia and South Africa. This will be followed up with an evening clash between England and West Indies in Dubai.
Old rivals England and Australia will lock horns in Dubai on 30th October. The group will conclude on 6th November with matches between Australia and West Indies in Abu Dhabi, England and South Africa in Sharjah.
Group 2 will commence with a heavyweight clash between India and Pakistan in Dubai on 24 October at 6pm local time. Pakistan then take on New Zealand in Sharjah on 26 October, in a tough start for the 2009 champions. Afghanistan begin their campaign on 25 October at Sharjah, taking on the winners of Group B from the first round.
The group will conclude on 8 November, with India taking on the second-placed Round 1 qualifier from Group A.
The first semi-final will be held in Abu Dhabi on 10th November at 6pm local time. The second semi-final will be hosted by Dubai on 11th November. Both semi-finals have reserve days.
The marquee clash of the tournament will take place in Dubai at 6pm local time on 14 November, Sunday, with Monday allocated as the reserve day for the final in case of inclement weather.