Angelo Mathews, Lasith Malinga’s lack of inspiration hurting Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka are suffering a massive slump in the ongoing series against India and the lack of inspiring leadership from experienced players like Lasith Malinga and Angelo Mathews is only making things difficult.india vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Aug 26, 2017 17:47 IST
When national cricket teams suffer a slump, like the phase Sri Lanka are passing through, they always look for something that will light a spark and form the basis for a turnaround.
Sri Lanka’s interim head coach, Nic Pothas, argued the other day that England, Australia and India too have not been spared of hitting a low soon after their stalwarts had finished up after a glorious run.
Australia arrested the slide in 2013 with coach Darren Lehmann and skipper Steve Smith forming the brains trust and vice-captain David Warner turning his impact batting even more potent, giving up booze after being caught in disciplinary situations.
India got through the phase between 2011-13, when batting stalwarts Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and then Sachin Tendulkar retired. MS Dhoni held the reins before Virat Kohli, emerging as the leader of batting, took charge and began shaping the team in his mirror image.
However, Sri Lanka hardly seem to have anyone to look up to as they struggle to find momentum since the retirements of batting stalwarts Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara.
All-rounder Angelo Mathews and pace spearhead Lasith Malinga, senior players and former skipper could be considered ideal to guide the younger players during the tough phase. However, both have been almost invisible during the current India tour.
Malinga, who turns 34 on Monday and is two short of the 300-wicket mark, is yet to take a wicket in this series. He has struggled since he was recalled into the ODI squad for the ICC Champions Trophy in June.
Angelo Mathews, 30, led Sri Lanka to a famous Test series win in England three years ago, but his career has hit a slump following a slew of leg injuries blamed on workload.
He quit as Sri Lanka skipper last month following the shock ODI series loss against Zimbabwe, describing it as one of the lowest points in his career.
In the Test series against India, he tallied 182 runs in six innings, averaging just over 33. With the team crying for a senior hand to steer the innings, Mathews crossed the 20s in four of those innings --- he scored 83 in the first innings of the Galle Test --- but could not go on and convert them into big scores.
Mathews scoring 36 not out and 20 in the first two ODIs has hardly helped the hosts struggling to put up a decent total. He started bowling again only in the ODI series.
His one bright contribution was a stunning catch to dismiss Shikhar Dhawan in Thursday’s second ODI in Pallekele before spinner Akila Dananjaya’s six-wicket haul triggered an Indian collapse.
Asked who young players looked up to in the Sri Lankan dressing room as the team struggled, Chamara Kapugedera, stand-in ODI skipper, said: “I don’t know whether we are struggling. There is a good atmosphere in the team, especially after the last game. The way we played, the way we fought back, the guys are pretty much motivated. Everyone is together as a team and hopefully we can pull off one win and see how it goes forward.”
Former skipper, Arjuna Ranatunga, has been a severe critic of the current Sri Lanka Cricket administration while interim head coach Nic Pothas blamed “too many cooks” --- he retracted his statement later.
Sri Lanka need two wins in this five-match series to be certain of a direct berth in the 2019 World Cup. And all leadership support to bring about a turnaround.
First Published: Aug 26, 2017 17:47 IST