From the publishers of THE HINDU
Vol. 24 :: No. 33 :: Aug. 18 - 24, 2001
Sri Lankan bowling has the edgeRANJIT FERNANDO
WHEN it mattered the most, the Sri Lankans had produced their best form. This has been a common feature of the Sri Lankans when playing the shorter version of the game at home. As for India, they faltered and failed once again in a one-day final. You will remember, the South Africans used to choke when it came to a crucial situation. Many reasons were attributed to this, but what is important from the Proteas point of view is that they have overcome this problem.
I was talking to the Sri Lankan captain Sanath Jayasuriya and vice-captain Marvan Atapattu, before the Coca-Cola Cup final. When the topic of how the match would go on came up, Sanath's remark was that in one-day cricket you win some and lose some. He said what was important was to perform as best as you could.
This is the type of approach the Indians must adopt and Sanath Jayasuriya has proved, time and again, that when the occasion demands, he is always up to it. What a commanding innings he played. Though he suffered from cramps during his brilliant knock of 99, he kept the scoreboard ticking and the Sri Lankans had wickets at the end of the innings to launch an assault on the Indian attack. From that point onwards, it was Russel Arnold all the way. This pencil like figure is turning out to be the opponent's nightmare. He strikes the ball with great power when needed, quite in contrast to his frame and has the uncanny ability to find the gaps and beat the fielders. He certainly, at times, matches up to the master, Arjuna Ranatunga, whose position he has taken over.
Sri Lanka's biggest success in this competition is the emergence of their young fast bowler Dilhara Fernando. There is no question about the fact that he is genuinely quick, recording a consistent speed of around 85-90 miles per hour. He also has the ability to get bounce even on pitches that are not pace friendly. He did make it uncomfortable to the top order Indian batting. Above all, he has developed his accuracy. His only flaw is that his head drops a bit at the time of delivery, but this doesn't seem to bother him much.
Dilhara's supporting role has immensely helped Chaminda Vaas who is bowling as well as ever before. The Sri Lankan pace attack - with support bowler, all-rounder Suresh Perera, also around - looks threatening.
Since they are able to pick up early wickets with pace bowling, the reliance on Muralitharan is much less and this gives Sanath Jayasuriya many more options.
With one bouncer being permitted in one-day cricket in the future, Sri Lanka will have to change their style and approach to the shorter game. Looking at the progress made by the fast bowlers, I am now inclined to believe that with the Lankans having started off early, and adopting themselves to playing on the quicker tracks, they may find the change far more to their advantage. Their batsmen, being strokemakers, would favour the quicker pitches where the ball would come on to the bat.
With Dilhara Fernando, Chaminda Vaas and Nuwan Zoysa in their ranks, they have a good attack. It must not be forgotten that the all-rounders, Suresh Perera, Dulip Liyanage and Kaushaliya Weeraratne, are useful speedsters who can bat as well. The Sri Lankan pace cupboard has a few more in Ishara Amerasinghe, who according to fast bowling specialist coach Rumesh Ratnayake, who has done great work in this area, is even faster then Dilhara, and also teenager Akalanka Ganegama, who with exposure can only get better.
All that the Sri Lankans have done in the one-day game is in keeping with their potential, but the same cannot be said about their Test performance, which is well below the expectations. They would like to forget the recent Test series against England at home.
Contents Daily Sports The Hindu Business Line Frontline Home
Copyrights © 2001 The Sportstar
Republication or redissemination of the contents of this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of The Sportstar.