5 things Sri Lanka needs to do to turnaround their fortunes

5 things Sri Lanka needs to do to turnaround their fortunes

Sri Lanka have nothing to lose and must play fearlessly in order to start winning again.

Akila Dananjaya Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s Akila Dananjaya celebrates with teammates. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)

Sri Lanka is going through their worse phase as an international team in the last 2 decades. They have known to be a spirited team which usually punches above their weight. Retirement of legendary crickets hasn’t helped their cause at all. Usually a team tough to beat in their own backyard, Sri Lanka was beaten convincingly by India in the Test series by a 3-0 margin.

The first ODI was again, a one-sided affair as India romped to victory with more than 20 overs to spare and 9 wickets intact. The Islanders are not performing well and not offering any resistance against a strong Indian side. Their regular skipper Angelo Mathews stepped down from captaincy following a shock series loss to lowly Zimbabwe. Upul Tharanga, who hasn’t played much international cricket in the last couple of years, was asked to lead.

The second ODI broke the pattern, just by a wee bit. The home side stunned India in a middle of another perfect chase when Akila Dananjaya spun a web around the famous Indian middle order. Despite having the visitors 131 for 7, Sri Lanka lacked the knockout punch and conceded another game. The only difference was that India had to play out of their skin to win it. They were stretched but were good enough to win it from an uncomfortable position. Indian coach Ravi Shastri rightly called the Dhoni-Bhuvi rearguard as a ‘jail-break’. Sri Lanka must take heart from their performance in Kandy. It shows that they have it in them to scare India.

Here are the 5 things Sri Lanka must do to ensure they start winning in the ongoing ODI series:

1) Niroshan Dickwella must look to build on starts

Wicket-keeping batsman Dickwella has got starts in all but one innings so far in the entire series but hasn’t managed to convert any one of his stints at the crease into a big one. In the last ODI, he quickly got to 31 before throwing his wicket away. In the first ODI, too, Dickwella played a fine hand of 64 but lost his wicket which triggered a collapse, much like the game in Kandy. Dickwella is an enterprising player but must tighten up his game for the cause of the team. Like they all say, a good start is just half the work done.

2) Seniors batsmen must step up

The senior brigade – Mathews, Chandimal, and Thirimanne – have to step up to inspire the young guns. With Tharanga suspended for the next two games, these three will have to play a pivotal role in the middle order. In both games, especially the first one, Sri Lanka have got off to a flying start which the middle order couldn’t capitalize on. The hosts must make sure that this doesn’t happen in the remainder of the series.

3) Give Thisara Perera a longer rope

The all-rounder, who is a veteran of 120 ODIs, was dropped after just one game. Perera is a utility cricketer and can be included in the side for that ability. He has, of late, made a reputation of a decent death bowler which Sri Lanka needs to take into consideration. A free flowing batsman, Perera can hit a cricket ball a long way and can be a valuable addition in the lower middle order. He can take some pressure off the shoulders of Malinga, who is struggling with the ball.

4) Bring in Malinda Pushpakumara

Spin inflicted the most damage in Kandy which calls for the inclusion of an extra spinner in the form of Pushpakumara. The 30-year old has a world of experience and has picked 92 wickets from 53 games in List A cricket. He is no mug with the bat and can get runs in the back end of the innings. Siriwardana, a part time left arm spinner, did well with the ball the other day and there is no reason why Pushpakumara can’t replicate that.

5) Remain positive and take heart from Kandy game

It was a heartbreaking loss in Kandy but the team must take the positives out of the game. They reduced India into bits in a matter of a few overs. Every player had a spring in their stride when Dananjaya sent the Indian batsmen on their way one after the other. The key aspect was that Tharanga decided to attack after the openers were dismissed, a tactic Kapugedera must take not of as he will fill in for the former in the next two games. Playing the waiting game won’t get them anywhere, they must take India head on and hope to get the result their way.