India v Sri Lanka, Champions Trophy, semi-final, Cardiff

Fair result for a middling ODI team

Fight carries Sri Lanka far into tournaments, but they lack the ruthless edge that winning titles requires

Andrew Fidel Fernando in Cardiff

June 20, 2013

Comments: 67 | Text size: A | A

Mahela Jayawardene sweeps the ball, India v Sri Lanka, Champions Trophy, 2nd semi-final, Cardiff, June 20, 2013
Sri Lanka's waning middle order came to the fray this tournament © ICC/Getty

Sri Lanka have made for pretty bridesmaids in recent years. They have known, in past campaigns, how to make the most of their assets - the big players have fired and the team has played a very watchable brand of cricket.

This time, they encountered the team of the competition in the semi-finals, which has not always been the case in the past, and were thus relegated one step further in the tournament hierarchy. In the UK, Sri Lanka will be the friends watching jealously as someone else gets to be ogled at for a bit, precede the winner gracefully to the stage, and then cry themselves to sleep wondering when it will ever be their big day.

After the match Angelo Mathews casually threw out the phrase "we choked", which in cricket once carried a taboo to match attitudes towards cannibalism, but is now in vogue for exiting teams like it had been labelled the season's "in" response in Press Conference magazine. Soon after he had uttered the phrase, Mathews backtracked by stating a psychological meltdown did not contribute to their demise, and perhaps he was correct in that revised assessment.

Like South Africa in the first semi-final, Sri Lanka were never in a good enough position to choke. It has been a feature of this campaign, and several before it, that Sri Lanka have played hard, competitive cricket, but have rarely dominated foes as champions do.

The narrow loss to New Zealand in Cardiff may have been a boon to team morale, but a side that folds for 138 on a pitch that warrants a score in excess of 230 are not worthy of taking home a trophy, despite their ability to regroup and surge. The never-say-die spirit in their performance makes them a compelling team to watch, and their group matches provided the most thrills of the Champions Trophy. But a better team would not have allowed such anxiety to creep in.

When Australia were at 192 for 9, chasing 254, Sri Lanka should have brought the field in and pushed hard for the final wicket, but instead they waited for Clint McKay and Xavier Doherty to make the mistake, and gave the opposition a sight of victory they never should have been afforded. Fight carries Sri Lanka far into tournaments, but they lack the ruthless edge that winning titles requires.

As was expected before the competition began, Sri Lanka have also relied heavily on their experienced batsmen, and the remainder of their lengthy batting order have provided nothing more than support. Sri Lanka's transitioning status will make the exit palatable to fans at home, but Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne have far to go before they are capable of consistently carrying ODI innings without the aid of the senior batsmen.

The decision to promote Nuwan Kulasekara against England proved to be a fine one, but Mathews prides himself as a finisher, and a captain more confident in his own ability may not have deferred the task. His final innings, at least, has proved he has not grown averse to pressure. As a tactician, he can perhaps count this tournament as a positive learning experience.

Apart from last year's World Twenty20 final defeat to West Indies, when mental frailty might have played a substantial role, Sri Lanka were outplayed by a stronger opposition in each of the finals before it. In 2007, Australia were even more dominant through their campaign than India have been in this tournament, and an Adam Gilchrist blitz effectively put his side out of Sri Lanka's reach in the first quarter of that match. In 2009, Mohammad Amir and Abul Razzak's early strikes did the same in a World T20 final, and in 2011, MS Dhoni and company dominated Sri Lanka's bowling to make 275 seem a cakewalk. It seems odd that they have not converted one of their six semi-finals positions, but rarely have they seemed likely winners from a tournament's outset.

"It's very tough to go head to head with India," Mathews said. "You need to gear up all the time. You can't really take your foot off the pedal. They've been unbeaten so far and they play a brand of cricket that they're good at."

Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara now have, at most, two more opportunities to taste major limited-overs glory. If either retires without a world title to call his own, it will be among the greater injustices of Sri Lanka's cricket history. For the stalwarts to earn that prize there is much improvement to be made across the team and a killer instinct yet to be acquired. But for now, a semi-final exit is a fair result for a middling ODI team.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

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Posted by KingOwl on (June 23, 2013, 18:58 GMT)

Let's not try to read to much into this game. SL had really tough batting conditions to cope with - against a strong team like India, that makes all the difference. This loss was due to conditions, nothing else (although India are probably marginally better). But, agree on the point that SL are very competitive but not ruthless. Disagree about 'middling team'. SL are a top limited overs team. It has always been for the last decade and a half.

Posted by rafid_ahad on (June 22, 2013, 12:43 GMT)

i dont think SriLanka is middling ODI team.They have reached finals in the last two major tournaments.It wasnt just their day.thats all.Otherwise they they one of the most consistent team in world cricket.I think most of u will agree with me................

Posted by Guruprasad.S on (June 22, 2013, 10:48 GMT)

A very well-written article. Some points for SL to ponder: [1]. Angelo Mathews must build HIS team. He must come out of the influence of Mahela and Sanga. He must choose and back players who perform. Even now, it is Mahela who often makes statements to the press. He must earn respect of his team. [2]. Younger players like Chandimal, Thirimanne and even Angelo Mathews must be exposed to difficulties, not protected from them. The policy of Mahela or Sanga shepherding them should be stopped. [3]. SL should give chances to upcoming fast bowlers like Eranga, rather than keep selecting Thissera Parera who is neither fast, nor can swing the ball. [4]. When it comes to India, SL seems to make some silly team selections. By trying to cover for one player, they dilute both batting and bowling. Why was Eranga dropped against India? In fact, India dont like facing tall fast bowlers. [5]. Dhoni's confidence seems to outwit both Mahela and Sanga. SL players have to find a way of dealing with it.

Posted by   on (June 22, 2013, 9:37 GMT)

sri lanka cricket board and the team management really don't know to pick the team. therw was time they use to be smart enough with team selection specially bowling dept. teams like AUS, SA, NZ, ENG . SL use to pick as many as spinners to rattle them out. and agaist asian teams add more fast bowlers. this is exactly playing to thier weakness. now its compeletly different against india they add. spinners which is thier strength . omit the fast bowlers. and against rest of the asia add fast bowlers which is very easy for them. angelo mathews is never ever be captain. an all rounder cannot become captain. he him self is struggling with injury. missed the wc final 2011. was big blow. due to that 4 changes they made. chandimal talented player. he is not been used in right batting spot. ajatha mendis. still world cricket scared of him. he is out of the picture. if we see on paper SL battting order goes till no 9. all are capeble. adopting is not right. chandimal should start open the batting

Posted by   on (June 22, 2013, 7:45 GMT)

I think its a bit of an insult to this talented and successfull team to call them ä "middling"team? They have had the talent and tanacity to make the Semi-Finals 6 time in major world tornaments. . The thing that is always going to trouble SL is their lack of clear and decisive leadership. . Under Mahela and Sanga their tea performances consistent and they looked like a force to be reckoned with. . . It is however the constant and disruptive actions of their inept board that have created problems within the team. Angelo Mathews is a talented player but a HORRIBLE captain. . Its simply ridiculos that in the last 2 years SL has had 4 captains. SL have genuine matching bowlers and batsmen. . . They just need a leader with a cool head to get the job done in the big games.

Posted by Pathiyal on (June 22, 2013, 7:38 GMT)

It was just one of those days which didnt belong to them! thats it!!!

Posted by   on (June 21, 2013, 19:09 GMT)

Mathews captaincy needs get a lot better, in real quick time. Otherwise he should just hand over the reins to Chandimal maybe. He seems so stiff and uptight when he's captaining. I actually think the 3 seniors are to blame for the lack of killer instinct as well. Dilshan was an ordinary captain. Sanga and especially Mahela were great at inspiring their players, but tactically on the field they were always slightly defensive and adopted a wait and see approach which cost us many games. Mathews is doing this on an even greater scale, and to top it off, he doesnt inspire his team like Sanga and Mahela. Doesn't command the same respect either.

Posted by pitch_it_up on (June 21, 2013, 18:16 GMT)

There's no need to be so frustrated. Whatever SL has done so far is a great achievement in itself....reaching finals/semi-finals on a consistent basis....and you'll win on odd occasions like the WC'96. Lets agree: considering the size of the country, thereby the (limited) talent pool you have...its a great achievement. I wonder if India were of the size of SL, then we would not have been able to give performances that you guys gave so far!

Even before you become despondent about it, check whether SL has achieved the following to entertain great hopes..

1. Last time SL won a Test match in India 2. Last time SL won a Test match in Australia 3. Last time SL won a Test match in South Africa 4. Last time SL won a ODI series in India 5. Last time SL won a ODI series in Australia 6. Last time SL won a ODI series in South Africa

If you have a satisfactory answer to the above questions, then you have every reason to feel sad about yesterday's loss!

Posted by Unconstitutional_PCB_Chief on (June 21, 2013, 16:59 GMT)

Sri Lanka could not put a check on Indian batting with their current bowling lineout. They have made the same mistake in the World Cup 2011 Final, also against India. South Africa is the most balanced bowling side in Champion Trophy 2013 unfortunately this balance was badly hurt by the injury of Dale Styne. To put a check on Indian batting a bowling lineout should be like South African bowling line including Dale Styne. Sri Lanka went into the game against India with only Malinga and Herath having bowling strength, leaves a huge bowling gape - opponent see this weakness and they are going to capitalize on it. Sri Lanka is carrying this bowling gape for quite some time they would need to work hard to fill up this gape. In the absence of genuine bowling it is not a bad idea to play with extra al-rounder particularly on the bowling numbers.

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas_Atheist on (June 21, 2013, 16:35 GMT)

Forget Sri Lanka trying to find young stars. They don't even have half decent youngsters. Find a couple of youngsters first and leave the talk of young stars. You don't become a star over-night. You've got to do the hard miles, maintaining your personality and individuality. This talk of they found a Sanath, they found an Aravinda and all is just plain ordinary. Sri Lanka's bowling is very ordinary. Malinga is too predictable for Indians. Sri Lanka might win against other teams courtesy Malinga. But against India, Sri Lanka will continue to struggle unless they find decent bowlers and batsmen in the league of Shikhar, Karthik and Kohli. Their bits and pieces youngsters don't bode well for Sri Lanka's future.

Posted by   on (June 21, 2013, 16:33 GMT)

Though a keen watcher of cricket over the years I really can't understand why some players/teams, specially from Asia, prefer a slow start? Even in the age of T-20? Could you believe that SL was about 30 in their Ist power play. Yes, injury to Dilshan really hurts them, but still it is not acceptable when you're batting first. Giving Kushal one more chance after falling thrice is also beyond understanding. I think Chandimaal should have given a chance instead of him. He could play aggressively as well as defensively. Think they had planned to increase the run rate afterwards but in that process they slow down considerably and from that position it was not easy to charge with the likes of Ashwin & Jadeja, even Dhoni sneaks his 4 overs well in that situation. True, SL was not the team to enter the Final. In fact, according to me WI was unfortunate and NZ is quite worthy of the other 6 teams, rest performances was below par.

Posted by Nampally on (June 21, 2013, 16:13 GMT)

Andrew, I must be honest in saying that after Murali retired, SL does not have a match winning bowler. Malinga's bowling is too predictable & all Indian batsmen know him from IPL. Dilshan, Sanga & Jayawardene are all great batsmen but it was essential that at least 2 of them went at full blast to put up a total of >300, to give SL bowlers a fair chance of making it a game. I don't believe in cliché excuse by the losing side - of "Choking". ODI is a match of nerves & tactics. Firstly the side has to be balanced both in batting & bowling. Secondly, they have to produce their form on the day of the match. Last but not least, they should have slightly stronger" Luck factor" (Weather, Umpiring decisions, & other breaks) to carry them thru'. India is a balanced, talented young team + very determined to win. As long as they maintain that edge on the match day & play to their potential, they are capable of beating any team in the World.So SL lost to one of the best ODI teams- if not the Best!

Posted by Raki99 on (June 21, 2013, 15:54 GMT)

Srilanka dosen't have the Boling Power what it use to have once, There is no good spinner to emerge after murli and Vass was just very good in the opening spell and would always get a breakthrough. Srilanka is Missing bowlers Also their batsman are getting old as we know that sanga, mahela and dilshan are in their mid to late 30's. Once this three retire it will be a big vaccume. And it would be even tough to get into the semis for couple yeras in the any tounament. The worst hasen't come yet. India has so much talent that the sports gets filled automatically. Just see that 7 to 8 players who played in the worldcup are no in this team.

Posted by cricketforpeace on (June 21, 2013, 14:59 GMT)

@ Baljit Mall: "mahela average in the odi is just 33 not that great rohit sharma average 31 and people critizied him". I think this is an unfair comment. Mahela has proven himself in both tests and the ODI's since his debut. Mahela is one of the greats of modern day cricket and comparing Rohit Sharma to this classy player is not appropriate - at least not yet. Rohit has yet a long long way to go before his greatness is established. And, incidentally, I am Indian but applaud and support good cricket and cricketers anywhere.

Posted by SnowSnake on (June 21, 2013, 13:35 GMT)

I think Dilshan injury hurt SL too.

Posted by Mutukisna on (June 21, 2013, 12:05 GMT)

Mr. Fernando, this is an excellent article except for one point. The " pretty bridesmaids" looked ugly on each of the wedding days! And choked on the wedding cake.

Posted by   on (June 21, 2013, 11:50 GMT)

i hope cricinfo publishes my comment , this is fair comment.

@mark2011 : dont worry indian dont complain . and did you forgot that you complained about pitch, umpiring, missed catches, overcast conditions, fair play?

"Posted by mark2011 on (June 21, 2013, 5:54 GMT) India played well, but this is more of a toss win, match win situation. had SL won the toss India wud have been in receiving end.additionally SL didnt have luck right from the toss to end of the game.thye dropped catches at crucial moments... it was overcast condition that outplayed SL batting and the threat was less in the second half of the match. clearly there was a favourable condition to Ind. I dont think this type of world series shud be played such an unfairable condition to one team and favorable to the other. you cant find real winners if you play a match in this type of condition. where is the fair play?"

this is the comment u made in other article . y this double standards. u expect us to be fair when u r not..

Posted by Mutukisna on (June 21, 2013, 11:45 GMT)

I had a feeling we were going to lose the match after a toss. Not just because we lost the toss! I was extremely disappointed when Angelo Matthews was asked for changes to his team and he could not remember the changes except for the fact that Chandimal was injured. He stuttered and failed to recall the changes. What sort of captain, never mind an International captain, is unable to know the team he is going to lead in a major and important match? The interviewer let him off by saying he will be able to obtain it from the team sheet. What do contributors to Cricinfo think of this lapse? Cynics might not be faulted in drawing the conclusion that the team was not his, but was forced upon him by the "politically driven" selectors.

Posted by   on (June 21, 2013, 11:35 GMT)

mahela average in the odi is just 33 not that great rohit sharma average 31 and people critizied him

Posted by   on (June 21, 2013, 11:29 GMT)

sl is yet to hit new lows just like Australia, when hussey and ponting retired. similarly when sanga and mahela will retire then sl will severely lack quality in batting. new batsmen like kusal who failed in whole tournament are either overrated or do not posses require temperament. sl fans should support team in transition even if get morr defeats.

Posted by   on (June 21, 2013, 11:26 GMT)

play fearlessly n show your real power n consistency

Posted by kalof123 on (June 21, 2013, 11:19 GMT)

@mark2011 - certainly agree with u. Sri lanka brand of cricket should be 1996 style. We should be agrressive. mahela and sanga allways play the careful cricket. i think we should change the batting order like 96 order. low middle order should be handled by experienced batsmen like mahela and sanga like what arjuna,mahanama,hashan did. younsgters should bat higher with less pressure and they should be given freedom to be aggressive. low middle order can play defensive cricket when wicket falls. during first 20 overs we should score quick runs like sanath and kalu did. should be agressive no fear of loosing, do or die. attack the bowlers.

Posted by mark2011 on (June 21, 2013, 10:31 GMT)

over the last 6-7 yeras SL has gone back to pre 1996 era... now after loosing 1st wicket early SL cant put up a good total and maiuntain a healthy run rate in the next 15 -20 overs. they simply go into defensive mood and allow bowlers to dominate and eat out all the overs and when they try to pull it out it is too late and finally falls apart, and can not put a par score on the board to have chance to win the match.specially this is wher I see Sanga/Mahela fails. often they are unable to score at a good rate when they come to the crease their motive is to defend the bowlers and save wickets, ok that shud be done , but it shud not be doing for a extended period of time where u have no overs to put enogh runs.take the example of Aravinda in 1996WC, semi final and final matches. both occasionsSL lost both opperns in the very early overs, but Ara came and took the attack to bowlers and made runs, so the presuure was not moiunting on them instead it was a even contest.we lack this now badly

Posted by   on (June 21, 2013, 10:14 GMT)

While agreeing with Andrew on most points I wish to point out that in 2009 Sri Lanka was unstoppable until the final game. If Sri Lanka have completely 'owned' a series (until the final) it was in the ICC WT20 of 2009. That final was indeed a shocker. Apart from that as Andrew mentioned Sri Lanka were never marked 'favourites' (except for maybe in the 2002 Champions Trophy at home, since they were on a bit of a winning streak at that time and if my memory serves right ranked #3 in the ODI rankings). Before a tournament SL are always marked as a 'threat'.

Posted by Baseball-Sucks on (June 21, 2013, 10:14 GMT)

I think Thirimanne n Dimuthu Karunaratne should swap their formats they have been assigned to. Day by day, Thiri shows he is more of test material, not limited overs. Scoring 7 runs outta 40 deliveries is unacceptable in anywhere in the world, in an ODI. But Kusal must defo get an extended run, given the god given talent he possesses. Kusal seems to have inherited both talents n weaknesses of the old man. :). I think that the best thing is to build our T20 team with only young players, even though Mahela,Sanga n Dilshan are still up to the task. That way we can give an international exposure for the likes of Angelo Perera, Kithuruwan n so on. We may lose some matches. But thats the price we should be willing to pay in order to assure a bright future for the SL Cricket.

Posted by Harmony111 on (June 21, 2013, 9:36 GMT)

After SL had won against Eng, I had said right then that while the Kula gamble may have paid off it showed that the Captain was lacking self-confidence. Angelo does not usually bowl 10 overs and his bowling is pretty ordinary to be honest. Angelo's main skill is his batting and if he is not willing to come in and face the situation in the 86th over of the match when his team needs quick runs and some stability then it is clear he is not much of a batsman either. Compare that to what MSD did in the Wc Final. He was not in the best of form till then yet when Kirsten mentioned it to him that he should save Yuvi for later he was quick to get the idea and played one of the finest ODI knocks ever. MSD had the guts and clarity of mind to take that decision in a WC Final while Angelo was hoping Kula would do what he himself should ideally have been doing. Also don't forget the ugly shot played by Angelo in the WT20 final vs WI.

This shows the mindset of Angelo. No wonder SL keep losing.

Posted by sailorsupreme on (June 21, 2013, 9:17 GMT)

Fair assessment of the Lankan team. Undoubtedly India is the best ODI team and they will do well in any condition, as endorsed by Warne himself. Indian is the best fielding outfit and that is a mracle in itself. It underlines the fact that champion teams are good at fielding too.

Posted by   on (June 21, 2013, 9:16 GMT)

The guys played hard, but there certainly was something missing. Even in the matches they won it was not comfortable. A major issue I noticed was the poor fielding, the DROPPED catches are unacceptable. India's fielding has improved remarkably and I think this is a key to their confidence. WI and England are also amazing in the field. SL fielding has taken a step backwards WHY? The man they can Jonty (Sena) even dropped an easy one in the semi.

Sana - get SL a new fielding couch and drill them hard.

Posted by srcric on (June 21, 2013, 9:04 GMT)

sri lanka should find more aggresive openning batsmen.there should be a compitition for every spot.and should carry 3openning batsmen always.just because of someone looks like jayasuriya he wont be jayasuriya.sri lanka shoould find fast and accurate bowlers,not to depend on malinga.he never bawls well vs india.indian team is well composed.their best batsman dhoni plays as the last recongnized batsmam of the lineup.but with sl team after mahela and sanga there are no hopes because the others are not sure on the pitch.i hope so called transitional period will end at least before next worldcup..

Posted by mark2011 on (June 21, 2013, 8:52 GMT)

let's see if similar condition to this match would be available in finals on Sunday and how Indian batsmen face english fast bowlling attack which is much better than SL medium fast bowlers... we hope Indians will not complain about umpiring or overcast condition after loosing the match....

Posted by   on (June 21, 2013, 8:50 GMT)

Angelo hardly has any impact as skipper. Dilshan is overrated batsman, he hardly has done anything for SL,, He is considered as explosive batsman but only against weaker bowling attack. I dont understand why Angelo did not sent any hitters in powerplay??? Malinga is getting predictable,, he should take hint from Nuwan who bowlded exceptionally well,, Hearath was given less overs when he was looking good,,,

Posted by mxnmxn on (June 21, 2013, 8:35 GMT)

Feel sorry for the SL fans. They were hoping for their heroes to fire. In reality, no one is able/want to perform against mighty Indian team. In semifinal, Dilshan gets cramps after few minutes at crease, Malinga was not able to get a single wicket, even Dhoni dares to bowl to them.

Posted by   on (June 21, 2013, 8:32 GMT)

With players like Mathiews, Chandimal and Thirimanna the future of sri lankan cricket is not seems good. If they continue like this after the retirement of Sanga, mahela and Dilshan SL team will be ranked below Bangladesh.

Posted by soumyas on (June 21, 2013, 8:20 GMT)

"Fair result for a middling team " well quoted, they should be happy they are finishing 3rd or 4th out of 8 teams. As some one said in the comment, Once DIlshan,Sanga,Mahela retire they might find problems even to reach semi finals. One more thing, Kohli and Dhoni are comfortable facing malinga, that gives psychological edge for remaining Indian batsmen as compared to the batsmen of other nations, and Indians are always better players of spin, Also dhoni knows how to tie SL batsmen to below par scores. So whatever the SL strengths are against other teams gets neutralized against India.

Posted by   on (June 21, 2013, 8:00 GMT)

Well, Sri Lanka desperately needs some match winners. They lack a genuine game changer in both the departments. Sangakara and Jayawardene though exceptionally talented have rarely shown the kind of consistency or fire power that a team needs to dominate oppositions over a period of time. The bowling too has been steady rather than incisive or aggressive. With the exception of Malinga they do not posess a bowler who can trouble batsmen in all conditions. So, unless Sri Lanka finds some match winning, consistent batsmen or a couple of high quality bowlers they would be unable to dominate world cricket. Sadly, players like Chandimal and Thirimanne who did well in Australia couple of seasons back have failed to establish themselves after a good start.

Posted by   on (June 21, 2013, 7:43 GMT)

Its time SL make changes to their XI. Clearl players like chandimal, mathews and thirimane need to be given more responsiblity at the top of the order. I think one if not two of the big guns will have to drop significantly down the order for this to happen. We have been always seen to be a top heavy team. This tag can only be shed if we make crucial changes to that batting line up. It is however important to maintain experience amongst a playing XI as they still have a role to play. Sl need to also look to field the best XI regardless of the conditions etc... For example the likes akila dananjaya and ajantha mendis need to be in ODI outfit. These two should be the spin attack for the ODI team from now on. Shaminda Eranga and Nuwan Pradeep are two promising fast bowlers who now need to be given exposure with just two years left for the world cup. If we are to progress and win a world cup Jayasuriya and CO along with Skipper and Coach need to make the above changes.

Posted by   on (June 21, 2013, 7:40 GMT)

Sri Lanka's problems could stem from the fact that it still depends on bits and pieces players instead of specialists. Even their captain Angelo Mathews is more of a bits and pieces man. He has still not proved his pedigree with the bat on a consistent basis and his bowling is pedestrian. The Peraras and Thisaras are useless unless they provide meaningful support to the seniors. It is however great that the team reaches so many semi finals and finals just because of the contribution of a few individuals. But for how long can these 3-4 players carry the burden? Time the others raise their game or are shown the door.

Posted by vissu295 on (June 21, 2013, 7:38 GMT)

Very very ordinay batting display from SL. Although I'm an Indian fan hoping for comfortable win for the team, I expected lot better from this SL team, especially Sangakkara and Matthews. They never showed any sort of aggression in dealing with the bowlers. Yes, the Indian bowlers were right on the money most of the time. But, at the least they should have TRIED to change the acceleration when they had lots of wickets in hands in the middle overs! One more good bowling performance from this Indian team should seal the trophy for them.

Posted by mk49_van on (June 21, 2013, 7:28 GMT)

I agree with you that a proper hiding was a fair result. This team is a far cry from the powerhouse of the mid-1990s. The puzzle is how recent SL teams, despite being 'middling' ODI/T20 sides, have managed to find themselves in many semi-finals and finals. When they get there, however, their weaknesses are exposed and it never actually seems like they can win against a strong opponent.

Posted by   on (June 21, 2013, 6:29 GMT)

the different between the teams is CONFIDENCE. team wise or individually their confidence is far greater than SL. recent past in ODI's India put SL under huge psychological pressure, and also in this match that pressure haunting in Sri Lankan players. it clearly visible in their batting half, their attacking instinct was completely vanished and their almost stuck on the crease and let Indian bowlers to settled their lines and lengths. specially mahela and sanga's batting was pretty ordinary and they let pressure sneak through to inexperienced middle order. Matthews will never be a good captain, unless he learns fearlessness in decision making and maintain attacking instinct in every aspect of the game. at the moment SL badly need a batsman like sanath jayasuriya, lance klusener etc. who capable of change the game single handedly. Sri Lankan batsmen inability to hit through the arc with brute force rather than timing was major factor to their stuck on the crease.

Posted by Partyman on (June 21, 2013, 6:20 GMT)

I am going to sue the Sri Lankan team. I fell asleep watching them bat and hit my head on the sofa in the process. Blimey, what a dismal and boring batting performance that was!!! Interesting not to see any comments from Sri Lankan fans. They usually come criticising other teams for slow batting or praising their team for winning but when they are dire, the fans nowhere to be seen. They were clearly one of the worst teams this tournament. They got lucky with the conditions at The Oval and having had the chance to play Australia. Had they been in the other group, there was no chance they would have made it to the Semi Finals.

Posted by sidganesh on (June 21, 2013, 6:04 GMT)

India were on course to chase 270+. So, the problem is not just with the SL batsmen. The bowlers should share the blame too. Save for Kulasekara who bowled very well, none of the others - esp. Malinga had any impact. SL would do well to rethink their bowling strategy given that WC is less than 2 years away.

Posted by   on (June 21, 2013, 6:03 GMT)

After a long long time , we are witnessing a cohesive Indian team in which every member of the team has made a contribution at some time or the other . This augurs well for the future and the Final match against England will give Team India an oppurtunity to beat them in their own backyard . England , however well they may be accustomed to the conditions , will come a cropper against India in the final . If India bat first , they will beat England by 50 runs and if they chase a target , they will win by 6 wickets . Dhawan , Karthik and Ashwin will be the stars of the final .

Posted by xylo on (June 21, 2013, 5:50 GMT)

I believe that this outcome is good for SL in the long run. If they had won/reached the finals on the performances of Sangakkara and Jayawardene alone, they might have gotten complacent, and not really worried about their long term goals. Come WC 2015, they would have been caught napping.

Posted by kevepere on (June 21, 2013, 5:36 GMT)

I predicted it was going to be a India vs England Final ! India will win .. I certainly know that India will win.. Certainly India is in the best position in the field and off the field.. Loads of money in their bag. Motivation is high. Expectations are high. What a talented set of Indian youngsters ! For SL I feel it is better not to play India with such familiarity between teams. Substantial difference when malinga bowls against India. Why play him against India? because he is doing well against other teams.. Its a bad thing to do. It wont be long that Malinga would be out of the team when all other teams know how to play him. I have also never seen such bad batting against an opposition. SL never seems comfortable even against dhoni. No one to take up the challenge. sad sad. If we cant bat well against dhoni what do you expect? If bopara or broad was bowling our batting would do something, but India ! Its seems like a mental block!

Posted by ms2000 on (June 21, 2013, 4:53 GMT)

Good article.Yes true changes need to come in without political interference and also with more sensible selectors without political pressure. I have said before this Tournament that Mathews is not the right person to lead a national team when he failed miserebly at the IPL which is at most a club level tournament, players taking part for money. First of all a proper person who can lead the team must be appointed. Kusal Perara has proved that he cannot cope up with pace bowlers in such tracks. He is in no way can be compared to Sanath which is an insult to a great player like Sanath. Wrong decisions, wrong team slections, wrong leadership have all caused Sri Lanka to go down in the cricketing world. One can celarly see that Sri Lanka cricket would end up last in the world rankings in the near future. why did this happen to us?

Posted by tallgrass on (June 21, 2013, 4:39 GMT)

Don't see anything 'transitional' about this team. After all that hype around injecting new blood and vision when push came to shove we ran to experience over youth. If we were in transition Chandimal should have batted higher in the order throughout and Eranga should have been a constant. A young side losing to India is something we can stomach and gain from. SL cricket will never develop with this attitude. Too bad the big guns don't have a title to show. But the rest of the nation is not to blame for that. Given our poor standards of domestic cricket young players need more exposure at international level to come of age. Kulasekara and Herath improved over time. So captains/selectors need to put faith in Eranga, Sachithra, Dhananjaya and Pradeep. With just a dozen ODIs left for the year (and less than 2 years for the next ICC tournament) I hope this result shows Jayasuriya & Co the importance of fielding younger players for future series.

Posted by TATTUs on (June 21, 2013, 4:35 GMT)

Everytime Sri Lanka crashes out of a ICC knockout round, there is bragging of the previous knockouts in the chronological order. India in the early noughties lost 15 finals, including the World Cup of 2003, but never bragged about it. They kept on the good work looking for that win without thinking good/bad about the losses in finals. Meantime they were winning tests overseas, winning tri series in Australia, won one Asia cup and finally they won the world cup in 2011.

Posted by RoshanF on (June 21, 2013, 4:28 GMT)

No doubts the toss was a major factor but surely India would not have folded the way the Lankans did although they too would have struggled to score as they had done in the earlier matches. Nevertheless Jayasuriya and whoever decided to stick with Kusal Perera have to take the blame for having Dilshan and Sanga under pressure before 4 -5 overs are over in EVERY single match. It out tremendous pressure on them and the first 15 overs have been not about taking advantage of the fielding restrictions BUT about consolidation for fear of losing more wickets. Sanga has in every match here playing like an opener. It was obvious that the talented Kusal P was woefully short of confidence. His early wicket always the opposition early momentum. Shockingly Jayasuriya and co did not learn from the experience of the 2003 World Cup when Mahela Jayawardene, identified as special, failed match after match on 7 occasions until the semis. It put the following batsman under immense pressure everytime.

Posted by ultracoach on (June 21, 2013, 4:21 GMT)

Well Written. Yet the article shies away a bit from criticism. I would say Lankan team did'nt seem to be wanting win when they were defending any total. Field positions were pathetic at this level. Even when there was just 20 odd runs to get by India with 8 wickes in hand, there were boundry riders, and not a single fielder stopping singles, same in the other matches. Guess Sri Lankan team over the years expect to take wickets by batsmen's mistakes.Cricket matches and tournaments can be won by good captains with good tactics. Sri Lanka has the talent but tacticians like Arjuna Ranatunge and Imran Khan are not born every day.

Posted by yoohoo on (June 21, 2013, 3:59 GMT)

SPOT ON ANALYSIS!! A very objective analysis of srilankan performance over the last few years.

Posted by   on (June 21, 2013, 3:41 GMT)

Sri Lanka's stubling block has been India in recent times. We need innovative and well concealed surprises to outs them. Angelo Perera and some others could have being part of that pack. When Kusal's inadequacies against moving and fast bowling was manifesting we could have looked at other options. Also Sachitra could have been tried instead of other spinners. Jeewan is not in Jadeja's league so there is room for a genuine spinning all-rounder in the team. Of course the toss would the most vital matter.

Posted by Alexk400 on (June 21, 2013, 3:26 GMT)

Without dhoni this indian team is nothing.

Posted by ac_Indian on (June 21, 2013, 3:26 GMT)

In hindsight, as an Indian fan, I didn't think India would win so comfortably. SL have been a fantastic consistent side, and to see them score 181 only was a bit of a surprise (albeit a pleasant one being an Indian fan). Despite today's result, one cannot deny that they were thoroughly deserving of a semi final spot. Well played India and Indian team must maintain the same intensity in the final, good luck.

Posted by Un_Citoyen_Indien on (June 21, 2013, 3:22 GMT)

A fair article. All the best to Sri Lanka for their World Cup 2015 preparations. You are the team I support after India.

Posted by glen1 on (June 21, 2013, 2:34 GMT)

This is an article to be read purely for its quality writing. Change the team name and it could apply to any team that almost made it, but failed to go all the way, in any team sport. Such writing comes from the heart!

Posted by   on (June 21, 2013, 1:47 GMT)

India is the team of the tournament but English have a far stronger attack than what they have faced so will be interesting. Root will be an interesting player to watch....

Posted by   on (June 21, 2013, 1:24 GMT)

Could not have put it better!! Very well said. Very Mature write-up indeed!!

Posted by rajcan on (June 21, 2013, 0:59 GMT)

I hope cricinfo will publish my comment. Comment is all about how the fans feel, it could be right or wrong or to be discussed.

Well, for some reason SL looked like a team who just want to play for Trophy but not to actually win the trophy. Last world cup, team was playing excellent cricket and the team combination was very good, but for the final match they changed the team, dropped the players in form and brought new ones, lot of people including myself were raising eye brows and even asking ourself "are SL doing a favor to India to win their first world cup".

For this champion trophy also, selectors and Captain together did blunders, dint include Upul Tharanga established opener who have played enough games in England, persisted with Kushal Perera, Didnt properly use the bowlers, never aggressive enough to finish the game, with NZ and England Mathew didn't press the opposition when wickets falling,,,,Didnt make use of Senanayake.

Posted by   on (June 21, 2013, 0:17 GMT)

Sri Lanka-India games are becoming so boring these days.. Beating Sri Lanka is always a cakewalk for India. India certainly seems invincible. With India and England in the finals, i'll put my money on India. England are a threat to India, no doubt.. But India has proved to be unbeatable. If England wins on Sunday, i'd call it an upset

Posted by Soups on (June 20, 2013, 23:31 GMT)

Better side won.. India is superior to any other team in batting, but today their bowling (combined with some negative Sri Lankan batting) handled them the victory.

Posted by the_blue_android on (June 20, 2013, 23:23 GMT)

To be honest school team captains can think better than Angelo. His abilities as a player are very limited and captaincy sub-standard. Even a 12 yr old would know that with 50 runs left to chase down, he should get the field in which he did not. He doesn't perform with bat nor ball and is an avg fielder. I don't know what people see in him to make him a captain. It just shows how bare the cupboard is for SL. I feel bad for them.

Posted by   on (June 20, 2013, 22:57 GMT)

That's a fair assessment.

Posted by Anand_S on (June 20, 2013, 22:56 GMT)

I am so surprised that no mention was made about Kusala Perera, someone from the Amay Khurasiya school of batsmanship. Four single digit scores from an opener means trouble for the team. More trouble if they dont have anyone in the 14 to replace him. It is easy to say India was lucky that Rohit and Shikar Dhawan gave good starts, but if one looks at the squad, there is Murali Vijay in case one of them had failed. Alternatively Dinesh Karthik could have opened. How come Srilanka did not think of sensind in someone else? Why not try Thiraminne as opener and bring Kusala down the order? Why did not Dilshan face the first ball instead? I think Jayasurya at his age would have done better than Kusala. Upul Tharanga must definitely fancy his chances of making a comback

Posted by PrasPunter on (June 20, 2013, 22:48 GMT)

Its pretty unfair to compare Aus dominance in 2007 WC to india's in this one. We steam-rolled our opponents on such a big stage and compared to that, CT just pales out as an irrelevant one.

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Tournament Results
England v India at Birmingham - Jun 23, 2013
India won by 5 runs
India v Sri Lanka at Cardiff - Jun 20, 2013
India won by 8 wickets (with 90 balls remaining)
England v South Africa at The Oval - Jun 19, 2013
England won by 7 wickets (with 75 balls remaining)
Australia v Sri Lanka at The Oval - Jun 17, 2013
Sri Lanka won by 20 runs
England v New Zealand at Cardiff - Jun 16, 2013
England won by 10 runs
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