India vs Sri Lanka: Can Sri Lanka pack a punch in limited-overs after thrashing in Tests?Unlike in the Test format, Sri Lanka have some quality players in their ranks when it comes to white-ball cricket.
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Written by: Aditya Chauhan New Delhi 19 Aug 2017, 02:13 PM IST
With a 3-0 clean sweep in the Test series, Virat Kohli’s men once again flexed their muscles in cricket’s most challenging format beating the young and listless Sri Lankan team in their own backyard. The whitewash against Sri Lanka is regarded as the most dominant and ruthless performance by Team India across all conditions. The visitors had first-innings leads of more than 300 runs in all three Tests which clearly speak about the gulf in quality between the two sides. In simple terms – the Indians outplayed Sri Lanka in all facets of the game.
Now, the Test series is over and the focus has been shifted to the limited-overs series where both teams play five one-day internationals and a one-off T20. The hosts will once again try to pick themselves up under the leadership of newly appointed skipper – Upul Tharanga, who has taken charge of the Lankan lions after the resignation of long-serving captain, Angelo Mathews. Sri Lanka suffered their maiden one-day international series loss to Zimbabwe last month which was a huge dent in the rich cricketing history of the Island nation.
Once famous for their fighting and attacking brand of cricket, Sri Lanka were considered as the world beaters who can decimate any side on a given day and especially at home conditions. With players like Arjuna Ranatunga, Arvinda de Silva, Sanath Jayasuriya, Muttiah Muralitharan, Chaminda Vaas, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene – Sri Lankan have produced numerous cricket legends who left an indelible mark in sport’s rich history. But the retirements of some of the stalwarts have left a huge void in the Lankan cricket which is not easy to fill. They iare witnessing a transition phase at the moment and thus crave for some much-needed support from their passionate fans who stood by them through thick and thin.
Speaking ahead of the ODI series, Upul Tharanga said in a statement from Sri Lanka Cricket, "Sri Lanka dominated in all three formats for a good 18 years - don't forget this now when we are going through a rough patch."
The left-handed opener also reiterated the fact that the 1996 World Cup winners had already identified areas for improvement and were working towards it.
"These areas are being taken care of, and we are seeing the results behind the scenes - however, it will take a little more time for it to be seen externally, so please have patience, and most importantly have faith," Tharanga added.
Tharanga also made a strong comment on Lanka’s chances of beating India in the upcoming 50-over series. "Sri Lanka have always been stronger in our white-ball format, and I am confident that we will come out strong and beat India," he said.
Sri Lanka’s last meeting against India in ODIs was during the ICC Champions Trophy where the former registered a thumping win over the Men in Blue by seven wickets. Despite India putting up a huge total of 321 on board, Angelo Mathews-led Lanka chased down the target with eight balls to spare.
Unlike the Test format, Sri Lanka have some quality players in their ranks when it comes to white-ball cricket. The team boasts of a fair mix of experience and youth which provides balance to the side. Youngsters like Niroshan Dickwella, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis are ably supported by experienced campaigners like Upul Tharanga, Chamara Kapugedera, Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera.
Also, the return of bowling spearhead Lasith Malinga is likely to add some spine to the toothless Lankan attack which struggled in the longer format. In his pomp, Malinga was widely hailed as one of the great limited-overs bowlers who used to run through the best of the batting units. But with age catching up, those searing inswinging yorkers and the pace has suffered a huge decline. However, Malinga’s mere presence can lift the morale of young pacers like Dushmantha Chameera and Vishwa Fernando who can learn a lot from the modern-day legend.
Also, the abilities of all-rounders like Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera with both bat and ball have widely been rated high in white-ball cricket. The duo is known to change the course of the match single-handedly at any given situation. They will be ably supported by Milinda Siriwardana.
If Sri Lanka hope for a turnaround in the upcoming series against India, they simply should tick all the boxes which they failed to check in the Test series. And with nothing to lose on their part, the Islanders certainly have it in them to change the tide against the marauding Indians.
Sri Lanka will take on India in the first ODI at Dambulla on August 20.