Monday, 30 January 2012

The UNPREDICTABLE Pakistan or The EXPOSED England!

     Pakistan Cricket Team - the unpredictable  - win an other thriller against World's #1 (in ranking charts) by 72 runs. What an awesome win of PCT! I believe, it's one of the best test wins of  Pakistan's cricket history. The decision of captain Misbah proved right as in 4th innings of the match, Pakistan bowled out England for the tiny total of 72 runs courtesy match winning performance of Rehman, Ajmal & Hafeez. England's world class batting line looked paralyse in the answer of excellent bowling of PCT's spin trio. Rehman - the unsung hero - named MOTM for his 6 wickets in the second innings.
    PCT is a side, famous for its unpredictability. They lost the matches in recent past, which were in their hands, e.g; lose against Australia in Sydney, CWC 2011's semifinal etc.. People started unloving them 'cause of their this loosening up attitude. But, now, PCT is on the other extreme of this phenomenon. They have started winning from NOWHERE. When people start to lose hope, they start to write new records. Pakistan's win over SA in Abu Dhabi courtesy Abdul-Razzaq's rapid, timely ton, snatching the win from the mouth of SL last year in UAE, when Shahid Afridi took 5 wickets, and made PCT to win handsomely, etc.. Now, Pakistanis are showing their positive unpredictability - the killer instinct - in the premium version of  THE GENTLEMEN's GAME. Pakistan's captain - Misbah ul Haq - won the toss and took a strange decision to put his troops in for batting when the past record was not good for the team batting 1st. However, the game started, and Pakistan lost their top 4 batters for just 104 runs. Then, captain and the youngster - Asad Shafiq - gathered 100 runs for 5th wicket partnership. After Asad's departure, none of the batsmen could do reasonably good, and Pakistan were all out for 257 courtesy of Broad's 4 & Swann's 3 wickets. Misbah was the leading scorer of the innings with 84 off 227 balls.
Asad - after getting dismissed on  58.
      England made 327 with the help of Cook's 94 and Broad's 58, and took a handsome lead of 70 runs over Pakistan's 1st innings score. From here, it was obvious that the visitors were in the driving seat. They did well with the ball in 2nd innings too, and managed to bowl out Pakistan for 214. In this innings, again top order's performance was nil, but thee courageous youth of PCT showed their mettle as Azhar Ali scored crucial 68, and Asad supported him with his 43 runs. From the visiting side, this time, Panesar was the pick of the bowlers, as he registered his 6-wicket haul. Now, England had to chase the total of merely 145 runs to level the series.
Broad surviving a run out chance to complete his 50.
      The English openers came on the crease with the full confidence that they would win easily. The innings started and PCT introduced Hafeez with the new ball. It was surprising for both openers, as they both don't have a good reputation against spin. England took their score to 21 with no loss in the 15th over. Hafeez took Cook's valuable wicket in the form of caught & bowled. Then, the collapse started, and Pakistan put the TURBO on, and applied full pressure on struggling English batsmen. Bell & KP also got out soon and the scoreboard showed a beautiful 33/3 (England's score). Pakistan kept on bowling with Rehman and Ajaml, and bowled out World's #1 for 72 runs. The loud sounds were coming from every corner of lucky stadium for Pakistan. PCT enjoyed the win like Excited Eagles. Excellent figures from Pakistan: Rehman got 6 wicket haul, Ajmal picked 3 & Hafeez 1 wicket. The Trio showed  the world that the matches can be won by spin bowling. English batsmen just failed to handle the pressure of fabulous spin bowling, and their weakness against spin bowling EXPOSED once again. This shows that they are also the lions of their own backyards only, like India.

PCT - enjoying the great victory.
      Pakistan should keep their tail up, and go for the kill. They should perform at their best in the 3rd and final test match too of this nail-biting series to register a historic 3-0 win. There is also a question mark on England's #1 position. There are too many problems in their batting. They are continuously collapsing against quality spin. World's #1 teams don't do like this.
     Hope, we will get some quality cricket in the 3rd test match too.

Pictures & Stats: Courtest

Monday, 23 January 2012

What did South Africa and Sri Lanka get from the series?

What a series this has been, full of thrills and chills! Except for the first match, this series has been an enjoyable contest, on paper South Africa may look the tougher side, but Sri Lanka showed by the end that they can’t be written of just as yet. In the beginning, they hardly seemed the side that had reached the world cup finals, but showed glimpses of it by the end. The last two matches would have gained Sri Lanka a lot of confidence, just what they need for a tough series ahead against two of the best one day sides nowadays.

Sri Lanka battled hard at the end of the series, youngsters and seniors both stepping up. That had not been the case earlier, the issue was that the senior batsmen weren’t performing. Dilshan, Sanga, Tharanga and Matthews, they hardly performed in the beginning of the series. The simple totals that were put up earlier were all thanks to the youngsters. Chandimal impressed a lot this series, showing a lot of maturity and his adaptability to play according to the situation. As did Thirimanne in the last match, showing his got potential in the ODI arena by putting up a match winning partnership with Sangakarra. Batting failures in the early matches is what may have cost Sri Lanka the series, but heres another factor, their fielding. 

Honestly, it disappointed me a lot this series, and was the main difference between these two sides. They dropped so many chances which allowed batsmen to make big runs later on. Such as the drop of Ab De Villiers in the final Odi, he went on to make a big hundred when dropped by the captain himself. They also allowed the batsmen to take too many easy singles, could have saved around 2o runs each match had the fielders inside the circle been more attacking. This is what lost them the 3rd ODI, had South Africa been a few runs short, they would have lost, if only the Sri Lankans had saved a few more singles.

Some poor bowling was also exhibited by them, it would be some good tight bowling and then a few loose balls thrown in which would give the batsman confidence to take on the good balls too. Their pace bowling was haphazard the last match. Their figures were disastrous, even Malinga's whos usually the stand out bowler. The Sri Lankan pace attack is not bad, but needs improvement, especially because fast bowlers play a huge role when playing in Australia. Lasith Malinga should keep up the good work, always chipping in with wickets, would like to see his economy rate improve though. Kulasekara needs wickets, hasn’t been bowling as bad as his recent figures suggest, but better results are expected from a strike bowler. Perera has been useful, bowled well throughout the series except the last match where he was thrown around the park. The Sri Lankan spin attack performed well, although I would like to see Suraj Randiv back in the side.

The Sri Lankan batting managed to make up for their poor fielding and bowling in the last two matches, chasing over 300 targets twice in a row, showing their strength in batting second. These wins were a relief for the camp, a well deserved one. Some pressure must have gotten off the skipper, who must be aware that his days as captain are limited, but he finally was able to score some useful runs these two matches. Played good knocks both matches setting the platform for the rest of his batsmen. In the 4th ODI Perera batted with positivity, something the other batsmen had failed to show. He has great potential as a hitter, and a true match winner. In the 5th Odi it was Sanga’s show, got to see a typical classy innings from him, which was due for a while.

The Sri Lankan batting line up must perform consistently in the future if they are to win games, more runs are required from the top. Perhaps more good knocks will be produced by Dilshan once the captaincy burden is taken of him. The question is, Thirimanne has performed in the place of Mahela, so has the rest of the line up. Theres no one who seems likely to be left out, so will the Sri Lankan selectors make way for the senior who has been out of form lately for a youngster who has shown a lot of potential? Knowing them, they’ll go with Mahela, and that’s understandable since the tri-series will be a huge one, and their best players will be required, but they should look at this from a rebuilding point of view too, this would be great exposure for Lahiru!

News on the block is that this may have been Dilshans last series as ODI captain, SLC should be grateful for that! Captaincy just wasn’t his thing, he was rubbish at it. News is Mahela has been offered captaincy once again, and his said he’ll think about it. SLC went through one of its best periods with him as skipper, and I believe he’ll be able to do a good job with such a talented side but I hope their cricket board has thought this decision through. Handing the captaincy to Matthews may be more fruitful in the longer run, since he is a youngster and has shown leadership abilities, more likely to stick around in 2015 then Mahela too. The only disadvantage I can see from this is that Matthews may have too much load on him considering hes an all-rounder, but he’s a strong player, I believe he can step upto the task.

As for South Africa, overall a good series for them, AB seems like a perfect choice for the team. He led from the front with some awesome batting, although his on-field decisions  to me, were not that great. What I liked about him is that he wasn’t scared to admit he got some decisions wrong at the end of the matches, a natural leader he is! No doubt the best batsmen in the series, consistently scoring big runs at an exceptional strike rate! Some of his shots, my word! It was fantastic to watch him bat, especially when he hit 2 consecutive sixes in the last month of his “AB-scoop”. He has been in incredible form, which was essential for his team in the absence of Amla and Kallis.

One positive for South Africa is the return of Graeme Smiths form, had he not reached that ton in the last Odi, may have been the last we’d see of him in the ODI arena. Badly in need of this ton, Smith would have given him a lot of relief to him and the dressing room, he would have gained a lot of confidence too. The proteas batting was really good this series, managing to cross 300 thrice! Faf and Duminy both performed well this series, but I don’t think theres a place for both of them in the side, and Duminy will surely get the nod. Colin Ingram, I had high expectations from him, only got the chance to bat twice but hardly put runs on the board. Albie Morkel, one of my favourite proteas, I believe needs to be persisted with.  A very talented batsmen, can produce big runs if promoted a bit higher up the order. One question that arises though, is whether AB Is the long term wcket keeping option for South Africa, they have a few young keepers with potential performing in domestic matches, such as Heino Kuhn, should they be given a chance?
South Africas bowling was exceptional the first two matches, but to be honest, disappointed me the last two matches. Failing to defend totals over 300 twice in a row, that’s not very handsome, not what you’d expect of a quality attack. Not that they were helped much by the fielders in the second last match, other then that the fielders provided wonderful support to the bowlers. Morne Morkel and Tsotsobe were rather good, but what South Africa are missing Is a death bowler, perhaps Rory Kleinveldt or Merchant de Lange should be given a chance. What South Africa really missed were two of their best bowlers! Dale Steyn rid them of control in the last two matches, while Johan Bothas exclusion the entire series was just shocking. There were a lot of times when the Sri Lankan run rate needed to be slowed down, no one had been successful to do so, the situation was demanding him! He must be played in the final eleven in the future, a very handy batsman too, better player then Robin Peterson in my opinion.
South Africa with the series trophy.

Its off to New Zealand for South Africa, their chokers tag will be tested there I believe, New Zealand is a quality side, but South Africa rank way higher then them..  Its off to Australia for the Sri Lankans, there they will be tested big time, hard to guess how successful they will be, but an improved show is expected. This was a heck of a series! Filled with both thrillers and dead rubbers! The next time these teams meet, I can guarantee a hell of a showdown. 


Sunday, 22 January 2012

Pakistan's 10 wickets win over World #1:

        The first match of England Vs Pakistan Test Series started on January 17. Pakistan were expected to perform good against the giants, as Pakistan had a good last year in test cricket. But all those performances were against comparatively weaker teams. On that morning, English captain - Andrew Strauss won the toss and elected to bat first. His decision proved wrong when his team's top 5 batsmen had gone back to dressing-room  for just the total of 43 runs in 21st over. Saeed Ajmal had picked up 3 big guns - Strauss, KP, and Bell till then. He picked these three wicket just in his first 10 deliveries. Saeed Ajmal picked total 7 wickets in the 1st innings as he later got the wickets of Morgan, Broad, Tremlett, and Anderson. Ajmal's figures were 7/55 in 24 & half overs, of which 7 overs were maiden. With the outstanding performance of Ajmal - The DOOSRA Man - Pakistan managed to bowled out #1's for just the small total of 192 runs. 
Saeed Ajmal - appealing excitedly

        Pakistan started their 1st innings on the end of Day-1, and the start was impressive by the both consistent openers. They scored 42/0 in 15 overs. Pakistan started the 2nd day nicely. Both the openers scored their fifties.England were playing with their best lot - Broad, Anderson, Swann, & Tremlett - but they could not break the opening partnership till  35th over. Toufeeq got out on 58, when Pakistan's total was 114 in 35.5 overs. Azhar Ali couldn't stand in there for some time and was caught behind on a bit wide delivery of Broad. Hafeez continued his good form and made 88. He got out on an appeal of Swann for LBW. He really threw his wicket. Pakistan's skipper played a slow knock of 52. Younus was bowled by a part-time bowler - Trott. Asad Shafiq also failed in scoring big runs. At the end of  the 2nd day of match, Pakistan were 288/7. The lead of Pakistan was just of 96 runs - which was not looking good enough to disturb England. Adnan Akmal scored crucial 61 to take Pakistan's lead to 146 and total to 338. Swann managed to get 4 wickets.

Swann & co. - celebrating on Misbah's dismissal in last moments of the  2nd day's play.
     England once again failed in showing their batting skills against Pakistan's quality bowling attack, and bowled out for just 160 runs - adding merely 14 runs above Pakistan's lead. None of their batsmen could make reasonable score, except Trott, who showed some resistance and made 49 runs. Their top order batsmen performed dreadfully bad shots. Both the openers - Strauss & Cook - just threw their wickets. KP also failed on No. 4 position. Bell couldn't pick Ajmal's variation. Umer Gul was the pick of bowlers this time, as he bagged 4 crucial wickets of Cook, Strauss, Trott, and KP. Ajmal disturbed the English again by his variety - Doosra & "Teesra" - and took three wickets, and completed his 10 Wicket Haul in a test match. Abdur-Rehman got 3 wickets with a chance of Hat-Trick. 
PCT - enjoying on the dismissal of Bell         

       Pakistan had the target of 15 runs, which Hafeez scored lonely. Pakistan won the match handsomely by ten wickets. The DOOSRA Man - Saeed Ajaml was named Man of the Match for his extra-ordinary figures in both innings. Misbah's captaincy was at its climax. Timely bowling changes and field placings made the test match one of his best matches as skipper. He is really doing well in his this role. PCB should back him to get the good results in future too. England were totally flopped in batting. Their bowling was also not so impressive as it was in England or Australia. They were playing with their best lot - Broad, Anderson, Swann, & Tremlett - but they could not break the opening partnership till  35th over. At the end, I have to say that Pakistan out-classed England in every department of game. But one can't forget that they are the #1 side in the world, and have the ability to comeback strongly. So Pakistan must not relax even for a moment, and should come with more homework in next match starting from January 25.

[Pictures & Stats: courtesy ESPNCricinfo]

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Indian cricket-Where is it heading?

 Australia are on the verge of whitewashing India, after demolishing them for an innings and 37 runs. This was a highly anticipated series by the Indians, thought to be their best chance to beat Australia in Australia. Expectations were high from the Indians, but they have hardly risen to the occasion, same for the England tour last summer. Lot was expected from them as the number one test team, but now its hard to believe they actually were at this time of the year!
 Seven consecutive overseas losses for an Indian team containing the likes of high class players such as Sachin, Dravid and Laxman. In fact, of their last five innings, four of them have been by a innings margin! What does this suggest? Surely nothing good for the Indians, they were expected to bounce back from the British defeats in Australia, but instead seemed to be faring even worse now! Their batsmen are not scoring runs, bowlers are not taking wickets, they are not being able to sustain pressure, fielding has been below par and captaincy been poor.
 Over the past, India have been lucky to have players stepping up to the plate in difficult times, players like Sachin and Dravid have previously been very accountable, but now that their age is slowly catching up to them, Indias weaknesses are being exposed and exploited.
 What i am saying is, its time for a change. The BCCI are very good in making money and controlling world cricket, but their team is just going down, and at this rate, God knows what the future holds. Some serious decions need to be made, and quick. Time for the BCCI to get out of denial, realize what needs to be done and do it. Changes must be made.

Should the big 3 retire? That is a very tough call,i believe yes, but not all together. That would leave a big gap in Indian cricket not easy to fill. Laxmans time has come, he should reitre himself and at the place where he was at his peak is fitting for a great like him. Rohit Sharma is a perfect replacement for him, its time he made his debut. Deserves it definitely, and in his current form, i bet he can fill the shoes of VVS.
 Dravid, the wall of Indian cricket, in my opinion still has time left. He had a brilliant 2011, being the most consistent performer for India. He still plays a vital role in this Indian side, has been unlucky this Australian series, just a lean patch, that is when his team needed him most, which is why criticism arises for him. Australians have been smart in bowling to him, they know how hard it is to get the wicket of the wall, so they go for the stumps and succeed. Dravid will know himself when his time has arrived. for him, that is a tricky case. He has been Indias leading run scorer this series and has looked in good touch, he also looks like he could play another year or so. Of course, the little master can't retire till he reaches his 100th 100 either, fans won't let him get away with that! It'll be a big day, a sad day for Indian cricket when he decides to retire, but for now he has a role to play in the team. He should play on, and go when he realizes the time is right.
 As for Dhoni, captain cool, a huge case. He is by no means a successful test batsmen and is turning out to be a terrible captain too! His tactics have been just too defensive, he is not providing the inspiration needed by a team to bounce back. He is not leading by the front either, not scoring runs, and i hardly seeing going up to the bowlers in between overs. He must be determined, must lead his troops, make them fight back and lastly, never give up till the end. His field sets are too defensive, his bowlers at times are unable to contain the pressure built by wickets. So either Dhoni clean up his act, prove himself as a captain worth leading this talented side, or hand the reins to someone else.
Umesh Yadav and Virat Kohli
after Indias innings defeat in Perth.

 Basically, team India need to rebuild and bounce back strongly. Introduce new young players, a lot are waiting for a call who deserve one! Such as Rohit Sharma, Ajinkye Rahane and Manoj Tiwary, All have the potential to be successful in test level, and deserve a chance to perform for India.A positive is Virat Kohli finally showing he belongs to the test arena, the big stage, he will definitely be a key player for India in thee future. Something needs to be done about the consistently failing opening partnership of Sehwag and Gambhir too, they should perform, otherwise get the axe for a while. Both are proven test players, but need to get in form if team India must rise again.
 As for the bowling department of India, one positive is the success of Umesh Yadav, the newbie in test cricket who looks like the only dangerman for Australia to be honest. He has bowled with genuine pace and good lines, out of all the bowlers, hes the one whos troubled the Aussies the most. Certainly a bright prospect for team India, but he has not been supported well by the other bowlers. Ishant Sharma has been luckless, but a bit haywire at times too. Zaheer hasn't been bad, but hasn't reached expectations since he's not a 100 % fit. India need to form a stronger pace attack. They have the resources, they just need to be utilized properly. The indian fans are losing heart, seeing their side embarassed around the world. If the BCCI want cricket to remain popular, these changes must be made. For it is not possible for a team to succeed till it goes through rough patches.
 Good luck team India, you need it.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

South Africa vs. Sri Lanka, first Odi review.

 "Sri Lanka will be more competitive in the ODI's"
  "They are a far better ODI side then a test side"
All the cricket followers out there must have learnt these lines by heart before yesterday, it may be just the first match of the series, but both these statements have been proven wrong, by a long way.


The natives in Boland Park were in for a treat by their home side, a dream start for Ab to his captaincy and a superb start for South Africa in the series. On the other hand, more criticism for the Sri Lankans, losing by such a margin is for the minnows, not a number four odi ranked side. 

First, lets look at the turning points of the match.

1) South Africa 9/1. Malinga takes a breakthorugh and Smith departs. After this wicket the run rate slowed down and the Sri Lankan bowlers were able to squeeze the runs. Sri Lanka were in control at the end of the first powerplay.
2) South Africa 92/1, Amla smashes two fours of Ajantha Mendis's first over, till then Amla had looked solid, but not at ease, had not been playing his shots, it was Kallis who was keeping the run rate ticking. Amla broke free this over, and after it we saw a more fluent innings from him.
3) South Africa 151/1, Kallis gets run out. The run rate had climbed to 5.31 and South Africa looked set for more carnage in the batting powerplay.
4) South Africa, 158/2, De Villiers comes to the crease on his captaincy debut, comes and takes to two fours of the 31st over. This was just the beginning of a wonderful 52 from him in just 40 balls. A superbly fluent knock and some stylish shots by the captain, provided great entertainment to the crowd and also accelerated the run rate.
5) 46th over, South Africa 273/3, the end of two innings, one a useful and well made 22 by Albie Morkel. The other, a brilliant, wonderful, classy 112 by Hashim Amla, He was the backbone of the South African innings.

South Africa ended on 301/8, a very competitive score considering the new rules.
Malinga ended up with notable figures of 5/54.

And now the Sri Lankan innings, what can i write? Considering it hardly lasted more then  hours. 
Or should i say the Sri Lankan collapse?

A horrible batting exhibition by the Sri Lankan batsmen, one could hardly tell they are a world class team. Chasing a score of 302, the Sri Lankan batsmen didnt even manage to make quarter of it. This is how the Sri Lankan innings scorecard reads.
Sri Lanka innings (target: 302 runs from 50 overs)RMB4s6sSR
View dismissalWU Tharangac Duminy b M Morkel022000.00
View dismissalTM Dilshan*c †de Villiers b Tsotsobe092000.00
View dismissalKC Sangakkarac †de Villiers b M Morkel420141028.57
View dismissalLD Chandimalb Tsotsobe4771057.14
View dismissalDPMD Jayawardenec du Plessis b Tsotsobe220160012.50
View dismissalAD Mathewsc Peterson b M Morkel012000.00
View dismissalCKB Kulasekarac Peterson b M Morkel1974460041.30
View dismissalKMDN Kulasekarac du Plessis b Steyn614111054.54
View dismissalSL Malingab Peterson12290011.11
BAW Mendisnot out326130023.07
View dismissalCRD Fernandolbw b Peterson031000.00
Extras(w 2, nb 2)4
Total(all out; 20.1 overs; 108 mins)43(2.13 runs per over

Unbelievable, simply unbelievable. Th
Unbelievable, simply unbelievable. The batsmen played like playgrounds kids, horrendous shots completely unexpected of such an experienced line-up. Of course, not taking anything away from the South African bowlers, they bowled magnificiently but honestly, the Sri Lankan batsmen, were hell dissapointing.


 Where do i begin!?! Just too many! Firstly, its a great way to start a series, a huge confidence booster it was. Secondly, de Villiers superb start to his captaincy, a dream debut especially against one of the top ODI sides. I predict great things for this man, so a wonderful way to start off. 
Thirdly the batting clicked overall, except for Graeme Smith the whole top and middle order performed, with de Villiers, Kallis and Amla playing exceptionally. The lower order could have done better, but they didn't come out at very helpful circumstances. 

One huge positive is Morne Morkel, match figures of 4-10 for him. he bowled beautifully, it was a pleasure to watch him. Bowled menacingly, the one who troubled the Sri Lankans the most. Kudos to Smith for believing in him by giving him the new ball, which led to him triggering the collapse. Other then him, great bowling effort by all the South African bowlers, all chipped in with wickets, and if not, at least sustained the pressure.

Honestly, cant think of any, all i can think of is Graeme Smith still not in form, but its just the first game of the series so he shouldnt't be judged too harshly.


The sole Sri Lankan performer.

Back to the drawing board for Dilshan and team, such a performance must not be treated acceptable. They must evaluate all that went wrong and work out solutions.
Other then the first few overs, the match was one sided, South Africa dominated. 
Sri Lankas batting didnt click at all, for which i believe they must tamper a bit with the line up for the next encounter. Perhaps letting Jayawardene open, and Dishan in the middle order before Chandimal. The Sri Lankan batsmen must play more responsibly and according to the situation. Their line up is filled with experience, they themselves would know very well the mistakes they made.
The Sri Lankan bowling was good, but could have been better. Other then Malinga, no other bowlers performance was of much note. Sri Lanka had pressure the first few overs, but fumbles in the field led to easy singles, and moments such as the first ball of Fernando's first over didnt help either.
Dilshan has a lot of answering to do, he must be devastated but someone has to take responsibility for this loss. Yet another match lost with him as captain, he must make his team come back strongly if he wants to save his leadership.

Overall, Sri Lanka must let this loss go, "jo hogaya woh hogaya" and now move on. They shouldn't let this loss dampen their spirits and come back strongly next match. Time to show the world what the world cup finalists are capable off.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Sri Lanka, what must thou do now?

2-1, the result of their latest test series against South Africa, 1-0 against Pakistan,  1-0 against England and 1-0 against Australia, 11 test matches this year, losing 5 and winning just one.  Sri Lanka is hardly the team they were when Muttiah Muralitharan was there, now they seem to be going downhill.  Dilshan and his men have a lot of questions to answer, a lot of improvement to do if they want to regain their status as one of the best test teams . They have even gone down one place in the ICC test rankings from number 5 to 6.
 Yet, when you look at the Sri Lankan line-ups throughout 2011 and the series in South Africa, names such as Sangakarra, Jayawardena and Dilshan make you think that this team surely has some of the best players, their bowlers too such as Welegedera, Fernando and Herath make you believe that this really is a good line-up, but why do they keep failing again and again?
Dilshan has to go, its as simple as that. He doesn’t have good tactics, has bad judgment and has failed to be an impact player like expected. He takes decisions which turn out not to be too smart later on, a  simple example would be the latest test match between sri lanka and south Africa which they lost by 10 wickets, Dilshan won the toss and chose to bowl first. That was a huge mistake because it resulted in South Africa putting up a huge total of 580-4 on the board. Dilshan has been highly criticized because of this decision, and he well deserves to be. Cape Town was a good batting pitch, batting paradise more like it, had Sri Lanka batted they may have put up a huge first innings total and put pressure on the opposition, just like the second test in Durban.
 I bet if Dilshan didn’t have Mahela and Kumar to go to for advice and help at times and even during matches, the team would be in an even worse position now. Dilshan isn’t a good captain, its as simple as that. It would be great for Sri Lanka if Mahela or Kumar, anyone of them took over the captaincy again, if asked to do so, I’m not sure if they would accept or not. Which is why then Matthews comes in mind, he is a good cricketer no doubt, but still a bit young I think. I see Dinesh Chandimal as a future captain.
Sri Lanka has really good batsmen in my opinion, each of them. But they have had a huge tendency to collapse recently, considering that they have been bowled out for less then 200 in 7 innings in 2011, and not too forget being bowled out for 82 against England in Cardiff. Their batting line up has become really fragile recently, three-four batsmen would build up partnerships and get the team out of hot waters, one or two heroes, but the problem is, their batting line up has not been scoring runs as a team, collectively. If one person makes a 100, other two people will get out in very low scores. The big three, Dilshan, Kumar and Mahela have hardly fired together. Dilshan has just been throwing his wicket away, as an opener its his job to stick in there, and as captain that adds more responsibility, but he has shown to have very poor temperament. He has to work on his batting, and perhaps change his technique if he wants to be a successful test batsman. Sangakarra, he has been really good, very consistent, no doubt Sri Lankas best batsman in 2011. I have no complaints against him, he should keep up his performance.
Now mahela, oh mahela! WHERE HAVE YOU GONE?  He has been completely out of form in tests, he has hardly contributed to the Sri Lankan scores which is not at all what is expected from a key class player like him. Here are his scores in test innings in 2011: 4, 15, 49, 25, 4, 6, 11, 105, 4, 51, 51, 28, 4, 6, 5, 39, 20, 30, 15, 31, 14, 20, 1. Lets be honest, only a few of these scores are of note. He may be a big player, but if he keeps performing like this, Sri Lanka will have to make a decision on him, which is why he must find form quick, return to his old batting self. I, personally, am a huge fan of him, and these scores have really disappointed me.
 If these three main batsmen fire together, then their batting will really be dominating. Then theres, Samaraweera, he may be old, but is a really good batsmen. One of the few who actually provided resistance from Sri Lankas side in South Africa, the Sri Lankan cricket board made a mistake in dropping him for their series against Pakistan, so once again poor decisions affected them.
 The Sri Lankan bowlers aren’t bad, they’re pretty good infarct. Herath is one of the best spinners in international cricket nowadays; Suraj Randiv can be lethal too. Their fast bowlers such as Fernando, Welegedera, Perera and Shaminda Erenga aren’t as terrible as their figures suggest. In my opinion Sri Lanka actually has some good bowlers, but not to the class of Murali and Malinga of course. These bowlers have been hurt due to poor fielding and a lot of dropped chances, such as in the recent Cape Town test, Jacques Kallis was dropped before he had even reached 50, the damage he did later was huge. Basically, their bowlers have not been too well supported, and they suffer because of the absence of a leader. They have no one to look upon to, to provide them inspiration.
 The bowlers have also suffered due to poor decisions by their current captain. They have failed to bowl out their opposition a lot of times in 2011, but I firmly believe that its not poor bowling which is the reason for this. Sri Lanka have to improve their fielding and catching, bowlers and captain need to learn how to apply pressure on the other team so that after they get a breakthrough, they can sniff a few more chances.
They haven’t been doing a very good job I believe, they have taken some poor decisions which have affected the team. Such as the axing of Samaraweera for the Pakistan tests, the logic behind it was stupid considering how Sri Lanka needed gritty and experienced batsmen to counter our teams superb bowling and also to play according to the tough UAE conditions.  The Sri Lanka cricket board will have to take some tough, but important decisions ahead if they want Sri Lanka cricket to improve and not keep going downhill, to restore its prestige.
They should have stripped Dilshan of his captaincy after the tests against Pakistan, but they stuck with him and the results still haven’t been good. If they still stick with him as captain, then it’ll be easy to say who’s to blame for these poor results.
The Sri Lankan selectors made a mistake
in dropping him for the Pakistan test series. 
What I fear, for Sri Lanka cricket, is that Mahela, Dilshan, Kumar and Thilan all are in their 30’s and don’t have many playing years ahead of them. So, does Sri Lanka have replacements for these class players? Do they have youngsters who are capable to fill their shoes? Look what has happened after Murali retired, the aftermath could be worse when these four retire. Sri Lanka must groom batsmen to replace these guys, otherwise the future seems grim.
All the best to Sri Lanka for their future tests, this is a testing period for them, lets hope they can come out of it strongly by performing as a team, at least for their fans who are slowly losing heart.

Friday, 30 December 2011

My review of the 2nd test between South Africa and Sri Lanka.

 It was an incredible test match for Sri Lanka, Dilshan winning his first match as captain and against one of the best teams around! And comprehensively too! No doubt that this result was not expected after the first test match. This match just proved how much runs on the board matter, if you get them, victory will be closer then if you dont. For Sri Lanka, it was just the matter of some players stepping up. South Africa has a superb bowling attack, but Sangakarra, Samaraweera, and the debutant Chandimal showed that runs can be scored against them. Its just the matter of patience and temperament. Shots can be taken as calculated risks.
 For Sri Lanka, kudos to them, it was a team effort! Indirectly each player contributed to the victory, but no doubt the ones who really deserve recognition for this win are Sangakarra, Samaraweera, Herath, Chandimal and Welegedera. The bowling overall was fantastic!
One mention is for Jayawardene, he badly needs to find form. An impact player he is, but has lost his consistency. He can play super innings, but seems to not have it in him anymore. But i believe he does, and its just the matter of one good innings, to bring back the old Mahela that is a joy to watch.
 While South Africa...they have themselves to blame. I picked up one moment in the game which i believe lost them the match, the dropped catch of Sangakarra in the second innings when he hadnt even scored 10 runs. It was a dropped catch by Boucher, which now we see, cost them a lot. South Africa will hopefully have Vernon Philander fit for the next match, who will really boost their bowling attack. I think they should go with four fast bowlers since Tahir's not really able to make an impact right now. With five fast bowlers (kallis too) South Africa can be on the attack for long periods.
South Africa need to work on their batting, Rudolph and Smith both have gotten starts and havent been able to convert them. Prince and Boucher both also need to make runs if they want to survive the axe. Prince does have form behind him, but hes not showing any this series. Him and Boucher both are capable of quick runs, and need to play to their potential. Hashim Amla looks in good form, which is needed in a number three. Sure luck wasn't with him when he got involved in a stupid mix-up with Prince in the second innings when he was looking in good touch, he still needs to convert his starts this series.
 Kallis..he simply needs to find batting form. We all know what an impact player he can be, well he has to show it again. Rather unexpected from a man as consistent as him to get a pair in his 145th match! He shouldn't let this affect his confidence and needs to come back strongly for the sake of his team.
While AB, he is looking in great form, and i believe it is him that has really saved his team from total collapses this series. All i can say is "keep it up" to him :)
Dale Steyn deserves a mention too, he has been batting rather well for a tailender and looks like he can be useful when needed.

 So, simple as this, South Africa need to put this shocker behind and come back strongly next match. They play up to their potential then Sri Lanka got no chance!

The Sri Lankan players celebrate their maiden win against
South Africa, big moment for them!