This columnist feels that Sri Lanka did have an advantage to a great extent in the just concluded T-20 World Cup in the Gulf (Oman and UAE) because they also played in the qualifiers, which means they got more games than some of the teams that did play in the Super 12. For example, they played against Bangladesh in the qualifier, which was very, very competitive for them. They also had the option of playing against Namibia, who also qualified for the Super 12. And also they got through one great point, to the Irish when they completely bamboozled them. So, I think they were very well prepared. And they were lucky also to play in Sharjah, where the wickets are very similar to those in Sri Lanka, where it skids on so you cannot play across the line and where you play straight through the line.
England Skipper Eoin Morgan
Let’s start off with the first game they played against Bangladesh and that was a great victory and I need to give credit to the selectors for putting their faith in Charith Asalanka, who turned out to be the fifth highest run accumulator in the T 20 World Cup 2021. He scored more runs against top rung players like Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli for that matter.
He also to a great extent, scored much more runs than some of the more established players in this T20 World Cup. So that was great from a Sri Lankan perspective. They had a wonderful win against Bangladesh. It was a close game, but they won the game with one over to spare. Then this columnist perceived that the encounter against the South Africans or the Proteas, was absolutely disappointing. That was very bad captaincy on the part of Lankan Skipper Dasun Shanaka. Sri Lanka could have easily won that match had the Captain Dasun Shanaka planned his approach in that particular game. The cardinal error he made was getting Lahiru Kumara who bowls length deliveries, to bowl the last ball.
And unfortunately, he did not have the foggiest notion about how to bowl a Yorker outside the off stump. He bowled it more towards the body of the batsman David Miller. He also gave him two length deliveries to dispatch the ball to midwicket for two towering sixes. Unfortunately, Sri Lanka lost that match with one ball to spare. So, the Sri Lankans will be very, very unhappy that they lost that match. But end of the day, it doesn’t matter. You have to realize one fact that, in T- 20 cricket, you can’t afford to make mistakes. But I would give credit to Sri Lanka that they took the game to the 20th over, which was great. They also posed a threat and told the Proteas, look, we are still a team to be reckoned with.
Then comes the England game which was touch and go. In 10 overs, England was able to score only 48 runs for the loss of four wickets and Sri Lanka was well on top. Yeah, Sri Lanka was well on top, but we learned something from Jos Butler, who got that wonderful 100. He is not going up there trying to score at will. Bang, Bang, Bang during your first six overs of power play, but he paced his innings so well that ultimately he made that great 100. Okay, that is the highest score that has been scored in the T-20 2021 and ultimately helped England to win that game.
It was also redeeming to know what a touching remark England skipper Eoin Morgan made. He said Sri Lanka was the only side which pushed them to the hilt. That is a great compliment, coming from a great captain. Eoin Morgan as you know, has played so much of T20 cricket and he’s a T20 specialist – the captains of one of the finest sides in world cricket and coming from him, credit should go to Sri Lanka. Finally Sri Lanka had an easy time against the West Indies. I am very proud that Sri Lanka, out of the four games they played against very competitive sides, were able to get four points which looks very, very good.
MICKEY ARTHUR BIDS ADIEU
Let us not forget the great contribution Mickey Arthur has made to develop Sri Lanka cricket. And I always boil when I keep thinking about what Sri Lanka cricket did with him. Like all foreign coaches, they gave him a little bit of, let me say, step motherly treatment at the last stages. He should have been retained as the coach for Sri Lanka for the World Cup in 2023. Well, I think the pundits know very much more than all of us.
Let us hope that they have not made the wrong move. And they are accountable because Mickey Arthur to me is a fantastic coach. All in all, I would say Sri Lanka had a very good T20 World Cup under his guidance. They seemed to play so very well, they were very dominant in the qualifier rounds. They played to their potential in the Super 12, but then they played against very good teams. Sadly, they were knocked off. They could not qualify for the semifinals, but basically, they did a sterling job with the little resources they had. Credit should go to Charith Asalanka for being an excellent batsman. He shows a lot of potential for the future. Wanindu Hasaranga is a right arm leg spinner who has a deadly Googly. Many opposing players still cannot read his Googly. So that is a good sign. All in all, Sri Lanka played a great game of cricket at the T-20 World Cup. This is a great accomplishment for Sri Lanka. This columnist wishes them well in their next undertakings – Down Under in February 2022 and India in March 2022.
Charith Asalanka in action against Bangladesh