Sri Lanka in England 2011

Sri Lanka attack backed to surprise

Sa'adi Thawfeeq

May 15, 2011

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Dilhara Fernando celebrates Darren Bravo's wicket, Sri Lanka v West Indies, 3rd Test, Pallekele, 2nd day, December 2, 2010
The pressure is on Dilhara Fernando to lead Sri Lanka's attack in England © AFP
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Sri Lanka's fast bowling coach Champaka Ramanayake is confident that his young and inexperienced charges can spring a surprise on England in the upcoming three-Test series. Ramanayake, who played 18 Tests and 62 one-day internationals from 1988 to 1995, will have to make the most of limited resources especially in the pace department.

Without the retired Chaminda Vaas and Lasith Malinga the onus will be on Dilhara Fernando, who has played 35 Tests, to lead the attack. Fernando missed Sri Lanka's first warm-up match against Middlesex, at Uxbridge, but will play against England Lions next week ahead of the opening Test in Cardiff. The total experience of Sri Lanka's five seam options is limited to 105 wickets in 43 Tests with 90 of those coming from Fernando.

None of the fast bowlers picked for Sri Lanka's last tour to England in 2006 are around in the present squad namely, Vaas, Malinga, Nuwan Kulasekara, Nuwan Zoysa and Farveez Maharoof, although the latter was drafted in for the first week of the tour. Fernando toured England in 2002 and is the only bowler with some kind of experience in English conditions.

"Yes, we have one of the most inexperienced fast bowling line ups taken to England. Except for Dilhara Fernando the others haven't played much Test cricket at all," Ramanayake said. "It's an opportunity for the youngsters to take over and continue. We have the disadvantage of inexperience but looking at it the other way none of the English players have played against our fast bowlers before. It's an unknown attack to them. I think with that we can unsettle them."

England will know plenty about Fernando and did have a brief taste of Chandaka Welegedara, the left-arm quick, when he made his Test debut at Galle in 2007 but their preparation for the rest will rely in video footage and some advice from Andrew Strauss who hit 151 against them at Uxbridge.

"The Englishmen don't know much about these bowlers and they have not faced them," Ramanayake said. "It will take some time for them to gauge them and get to know what they are doing. They all bowl quite sharp. Nuwan Pradeep and Thisara Perera bowl in the 140s, Suranga Lakmal has already played two Tests against West Indies and bowled really well.

"Perera is waiting on the wings to get into the Test team and has done well in the past year and a half in ODIs. We've got some good youngsters and I am quite happy to take this squad because we can really work something with these boys. They can improve and you'll never know they'll get wickets in English conditions. I have great belief in them that they can do well."

Pradeep, who had an IPL contract but left early along with captain Tillakaratne Dilshan, is one who comes in for particularly praise from Ramanayake. "You take Pradeep he hasn't played any cricket at all in his younger days and at school," he said. "He's got raw pace, beautiful rhythm and consistency. Consistency comes from rhythm. If the rhythm pattern changes then you don't bowl a consistently good line and length. You've got to be smart as well nowadays.

"You got to expect what the batsman is going to do, assess conditions and adjust to the situations and bowl. All these young fast bowlers they haven't got it yet, but they are getting it from the exposure we give them. They got the right ingredients and this is the best bowling unit we have right now."

Ramanayake also hopes that responsibility will help bring the best out of Fernando who has always been foil for the likes of Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan but now has to be a spearhead on his own. "Dilhara hasn't played much cricket in the last few months but still the selectors have faith in him," he said. "He has to deliver the goods because he is the only experienced bowler and he has to show that he is good enough to play Test cricket. That will give him a little bit of responsibility to take up the challenge and do well in England."

Ramanayake thinks Sri Lanka will play three quick bowlers in the Test series, although there best chance could come if the dry weather continues and their spinners - Rangana Herath, Ajantha Mendis and Suraj Randiv - can play both an attacking and defensive role.

"The two warm-up games are vital for us and whoever performs well will have a good chance of playing because you got to get used to the conditions," he said. "Depending on the pitches three will definitely play or maybe four if there is a lot of grass on the wicket. We are expecting some seaming tracks, but you never know.

"England has been quite warm. The weather pattern has changed and we might get warm weather but normally in early summer the wickets are expected to seam. We've also got three good spinners in our attack. Rangana very experienced, Suraj has been bowling really well and Ajantha has also got some experience."

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Posted by Reignman on (May 17, 2011, 17:16 GMT)

I think this is an excellent chance for SL to build a pace duo. I think Dilhara and Nuwan Pradeep could potentially be this duo. I hope the team/selectors will stick with this pair for openning the bowling and even if they perform up to par in the first match persist with them and show confidence in the bowlers.

Posted by NALINWIJ on (May 17, 2011, 15:13 GMT)

Correct me if I am wrong but I suspect Sri Lanka"s selection of Kaushal Silva and Chandimal as WKbatsmen may mean that they are considering replacing Mathews at 6 and Jayawardene at 7 with a WK batsman [Kaushal or Chandimal at 6] and Perera or Maharoof at 7 to bolster an uncertain attack in the first test without sacrificing the batting depth. Otherwise they could have picked Tharanga as a spare batsman.

Posted by first_slip on (May 17, 2011, 13:27 GMT)

Funny that people say that srilana's bowling is weak, have a look at this

Dihara : 150KPH Pradeep : 150KPH Welagedara :140KPH Perera :140KPH Maharoof 135KPH+ Hearth: with his variation Randive : with his Bounce and turn Mendis: with His magic (even though he is not going to get a game)

make you wonder how you could say srilanken bowling is weak,

Posted by CricketPissek on (May 17, 2011, 11:08 GMT)

SL will of course struggle without Murali in test cricket. You have to be deluded to think otherwise. After winning the ashes home and away, England are in great nick for tests, and are rightly clear favourites. The Lankans have class in their batting from the openers down to Samaraweera. The 3 spinners are class acts as well but the pacies though talented, will need great discipline to trouble the England top order. The other aspect we must not forget is the fielding. Remember the SL v ENG world cup match? How many catches the lankans dropped? Test cricket is far less forgiving, and with the colder weather in May the lankan fielders will struggle to keep their hands warm for catches. (take it from a Lankan who plays a bit of club cricket in England, it takes a LOT of getting used to) All I can hope for is some good hard competitive cricket, irrespective of the result

Posted by   on (May 17, 2011, 8:56 GMT)

@NumberXI - ENGLAD WILL BE DEFFNITLY UNDER PREASURE!! but it seems to me that u have not got your facts right as England team has not been doing well afteer the Ashes 2009 and SRL team being the underdogs will upset the home team.I belive you have to get your facts correct about the winnings in England and on vice -versa England has been poor away and specially in Sub continat.Sri lanka has a young bowling team which will fresh and a spin department with a variasion with batting line up better than Englans..I say Sri lnaka wil win the Test series 2-0

Posted by   on (May 17, 2011, 8:49 GMT)

@Jonathan Tanner - Your comments about the inexperiance of Dilhara and Mendi is unexpectabale..as they are playing the game after a long time and England batting line up is not still stong as they have not jelled as the lankan battting line up.Strauss as a captian will fal but his performances will be highlight on this tour. A tough series and it's still ealry days to talk about England winning in their back yard..as they are as a team doesn not have the bond..they will be under preasure...

Posted by danuk87 on (May 17, 2011, 6:24 GMT)

@NumberXI i remember 5 years ago people like u , repeating the same statements, when jayasuriya ,marvan & vassi all experience players didnt took part of 2006 england series.but srilanka managed to drew 1-1 test series .every one have little cricket sence knows may/june is the most difficult part for overseas players , bcz ball is swinging and seeming more shraply with overcast conditions

Posted by NumberXI on (May 17, 2011, 3:25 GMT)

It will take a lot for Sri Lanka to surprise. With limited bowling options and the rather massive gulf between their home and away success rates - both their top two batsmen average at least 15 runs fewer away than at home - and they have hardly ever won away tests or series, SL will need a typical post-Ashes fade from England to win the series. And there's no Murali either. England must fancy their chances.

Posted by   on (May 17, 2011, 3:05 GMT)

forget about the past just move on players coming up everyday.get out your negativity and move on like SL Lions.

Posted by ranilb on (May 16, 2011, 19:33 GMT)

It is nice agressive tactics of Dilshan worked against Middlesex and led to a win. They declared a strong fisrt innigs and went for the kill. He is very agreesive and the success of his tactics will be known only after some times. He might turn out to be a match-winning captain or the opposite. I hope for the best but time will tell what his place as a captain in the cricket history books.

I don't know what would happen with those who ignored SL sport minister's request to leave IPL early. Sanga and Mahela are not expendable as the minister wants so they will play, I suppose. If that is the case SL have the edge. Otherwise, there would be a balanced series. Anyway, my assumption - SL will adapted to the English conditions - may not prevail. Again, I hope for the best.

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