Sri Lanka v New Zealand, World T20 2012, Super Eights, Pallekele

Sri Lanka face selection dilemmas

Andrew Fernando in Pallekele

September 26, 2012

Comments: 20 | Text size: A | A

Akila Dananjaya bowls at practice, Hambantota, September 17, 2012
Will Sri Lanka pick Akila Dananjaya against New Zealand? © AFP
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Sri Lanka are expected to be one of the most settled sides in the World Twenty20 as they are the hosts and have held their domestic Twenty20 competition recently. Their approach to the Super Eights however, has been defined by uncertainty. Sri Lanka would have hoped to determine a team combination by the end of the group stage. But that hasn't happened as they were largely untested by Zimbabwe, and can take precious little out of a match against South Africa that was shortened to just seven overs per side.

As a result, the selection quandaries for the match against New Zealand in Pallekele are many. Opener Dilshan Munaweera hasn't set the tournament alight in his two innings, but he hasn't looked entirely out of place either, even if debutant's nerves have curbed his aggression thus far. Having invested so much in him, the team management may not like to let him go so early, but they will also be tempted to post Mahela Jayawardene alongside Tillakaratne Dilshan to comprise perhaps the most proven opening duo in the tournament. If Munaweera is left out completely, a less aggressive Dinesh Chandimal is the alternative. If they bat Munaweera down the order, he will be expected to perform a role that is unsuited to his game and might expose a major weakness - an aversion to rotating the strike.

Ajantha Mendis is Sri Lanka's in-form player, and the side strain that kept him out of the match against South Africa has also put him in doubt for New Zealand, opening a fresh conundrum for the selectors. If unable to play, they may debate to replace Mendis with a similar bowler in Akila Dananjaya, or stay with Rangana Herath, who may not break a game open in a malevolent spell but is still a bankable option.

If Pallekele assists the seamers, Sri Lanka may only play one spinner. If it is also Dananjaya's debut, the pressure of being the only frontline spin option could add to the anxiety of going from tier-three school cricket to a major international tournament in less than three months. A start against South Africa in the group match might have been a better way to ease Dananjaya into international cricket had the Hambantota weather not intervened.

"Dananjaya is certainly very close to playing," Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford said on the eve of the Super Eights opener. "He was probably going to play against South Africa and then the game got reduced and there was the chance he would've been bowling with a wet ball. He was going to get a game there and he's certainly not here just to carry the drinks."

Frustratingly for Sri Lanka, they haven't yet had a close look at the way Pallekele is playing during the tournament. Having arrived from the south, their training sessions have been at the old Test ground in Asgiriya. If Sri lanka progress to the semi-final, they will be the only team in the tournament to have to acclimatise themselves to all three venues. South Africa are the only other team in the Super Eights to have played in Hambantota, but all their matches, including any prospective knockout encounters, will be in Colombo from now on.

"Ideally we would have liked to have had a session down at Pallekele" Ford said. "I think we're the only team in the group that hasn't had a session down there, so that's a bit of a disadvantage. We thought we were going to get a session but unfortunately didn't. A bit hard in Asgiriya because the outfield is not conducive for fielding practice and the nets have got a bit tired towards the end. It hasn't been ideal, but at the end of the day you've got to make what you can of what you've got."

Sri Lanka will be encouraged by the depth and flexibility in their squad, but they will hope to nail down a preferred XI as the tournament heats up. With a competent seam bowler in Shaminda Eranga among the reserves, three bona-fide allrounders in the team, and Dilshan and Nuwan Kulasekara who can also contribute in both disciplines, a formidable side shouldn't be difficult to put together regardless of the conditions. They will want to feel a little more at home in their own tournament over the next two weeks.

Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Sri Lanka

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Fantastic_4 on (September 27, 2012, 9:12 GMT)

will Ajantha Mendis play today?

Posted by colombo82 on (September 27, 2012, 7:29 GMT)

Assuming A Mendis wont play, I like to see how they r going with this team. My point of selecting this team is, if 7 batsmen (up to T Perera) cant bat through 20 overs, 8th batsman wont do any deference. in this line up Sl hv 4 spin options and 4 fast options too

Munaweera, Dilshan, Mahela, Sanga, J Mendis, Mathews, T Perera, Kulasekara, Herath, Malinga, Dhananjaya

Posted by KunzMan on (September 27, 2012, 7:01 GMT)

This group is so easy. Sri Lanka and West Indies will go through. Sri Lanka will top the group by CRUSHING minnows New Zealand, GAYle dependent WI and Lucky England. We are Lankan LIONS and WE ROAR!!!!! MEEEOOOW!

Posted by kankanamge on (September 27, 2012, 6:11 GMT)

Dilshan,Kulasekara,DineshC,Jayawerdana,Thirimanna,Sanga,Thisara,Mathews, J.Mendis,Malinga,A.Mendis This should be today batting order.

Posted by   on (September 27, 2012, 5:46 GMT)

This game could go either way but sadly I think the toss and the weather will decide it. Rain is expected in the afternoon - and that means the ball won't turn hardly at all once it gets wet and the team batting second has a HUGE advantage as the Duckworth Lewis system does not give wicket much credence in T20 to the point where it is ridiculously unfair to the side batting first as Sri Lanka found out against SA. The side batting second will win this game if it rains plain and simple so this game could be won with the toss of a coin and that is just stupid -the system needs to be fixed

Posted by   on (September 27, 2012, 5:18 GMT)

SL should not play according to what they have seen in SLPL...this is international cricket, they should play to their own strength....Malinga is most important along with Jayawardene.

Posted by mysay on (September 27, 2012, 4:05 GMT)

Selectors don't look at comments, yet since we have the oppurtunity to comment . Munaweera should be left out if SL is to have a chance. Whatever investment made towards him, he looks like a fish out of water in the middle, not even capable of rotating the strike. Then get's out in the 20 odd runs with a strike rate of 40%. Against NZ the logicle option is playing both Ajantha & Akila. My best for SL is (batting order) 1.Dilshan 2.Mahela 3.Kumar 4.Thisara 5.Jeevan 6.Nuwan 7.Anjelo 8.Malinga 9.Ajantha 10.Akila 11.Shaminda. Then again what do I know.

Posted by ndmm on (September 27, 2012, 3:31 GMT)

when i go through all this comments i can see some are telling to dropped munaweera,i would like to asked from every body did all these players scored in this 2 matches no munaweera faced for first time in international cricket but cant see wrong anything in his batting. he faced well to dale steyn and morkel what about the experience players playing more matches did they go for shots noway.anyway good luck to our sri lanka cricket team

Posted by   on (September 27, 2012, 3:27 GMT)

Whtever temam the Lankans play.......... newzealand's going down... wach the LION'S ROAR....

Posted by   on (September 26, 2012, 18:14 GMT)

my eleven for tomorrow will be 1.Mahela Jayawardena 2.Tillakaratne Dilshan 3.kulasekra 4..Kumar Sangakkara 5.Dinesh. Chandimal 6.Thisara Perera 7.Angelo 8Jeevan Mendis 9.Lasith Malinga 10.Ajantha Mendis/Herath 11.Akila Dananjaya........since sri lanka can bat deep my choice on kulasekara should be promted to no.3 as all we know he is capable of big shot 2ndly he can contribute surely more than wat munaweera can do..thats gives an additional bowling option as well 2 specialist can mk things diff to nzl.

Posted by Htc-Android on (September 26, 2012, 17:36 GMT)

@sobersfan. We will wait and watch who gets thrashed by who.

Posted by cricfan100 on (September 26, 2012, 16:07 GMT)

@TopPlot , I can't agree with you more. unfortunately it's very few that have understood this. But still selection comitee says that sanga is suited for all three formats. And that's what amuses me. But to be frank i think sanga is too bigger player to be removed from the sri lankan setup mainly due to the kind of contacts he has and also the kind of reputation he has built up through test cricket. So our wishes will take some time to come true. But has no doubt about sanga the test player. Doubt is with sanga the t20 player.

Posted by   on (September 26, 2012, 15:12 GMT)

@Indike, I agree with your view here. The team you mentioned is much better. Just two problems: putting Sanga and Chandimal at 6 and 7 is a mistake, they are both accumulators, not fast finishers. @TopPlot, Sanga may not have won many matches singlehandedly, but he has held together more innings and gave Sri Lanka a chance at winning or drawing much more often than Sanath. Since Sanath did it in such a direction manner, you see him as a match winner, but players like Kallis, Sanga, Lara, Dravid etc have done more for their team than you can imagine. But agreed he is not suited for T20s.

Posted by AMAZINGFAN on (September 26, 2012, 14:04 GMT)

whichever players they pick surely they r going to get thrashed by nz.....

Posted by jerryman on (September 26, 2012, 13:52 GMT)

would open with dilshan & chandimal .. and play 2 spinners herath and ajanta mendis , if mendis is injured can try the new spinner akila , jeevan mendis and dilshan are their other options .. however i believe munaweera will need to be replaced by chandimal to strengthen the batting . Good luck

Posted by TopPlot on (September 26, 2012, 13:20 GMT)

Frustratingly, SL persist with Sr Players for long but why do they needs to even if they still r not performing and even if they still do not win matches for us? Sanga is far from his best in T20 although he has piled up runs in longer version but question is how many matches he successfuly helped us to win, lets be clear personal milesstone doesn't does any good for the team. Like it or not, this team lacks killer instinct and therefore will not and does not deserve to win this, Period. If Angelow mathews leads the team and has this results, that is acceptable but it is not but dont you settle with "he dont have experience", dhoni didnt and he was younger thn Angelow when he lead to T20 Truimp. Its sad, its very sad that we didnt have anyone quite fit to fill the shoes of Sanath while many other team has moved forward with many new tallent. (Kholi, Amla, ABD, Warner, Shakib etc). Dilshan, Sanga to 2015 ODI WC, honestly? Sucks.

Posted by joseyesu on (September 26, 2012, 13:09 GMT)

Dilshan, Jaywerdene, Sangakara,Thirimanne, Mathews, J.Mendis, Perera,Kulesakara, Malinga, Mendis, Akila Dananjaya can do the job for SL. But the problem is they are piling up the batting order with addition of dilshan munaweera. Sure players will strugle against Akila, if he is a mystery bowler.

Posted by   on (September 26, 2012, 13:05 GMT)

I think parvez maharoof absent may affect srilanka compaign.anyway parera should be used as opener.

Posted by Indike on (September 26, 2012, 12:47 GMT)

SL should move on from the Test match/ODI mentality [example. batsman to anchor 20 overs--that's lame...etc] and play for our strength, we should go all the way. Please allow quick scoring batsmen to face as many deliveries as possible. Don't leave it for the next one. Or don't leave till the end. Teams' got well capable batsmen and bowlers [& all-rounders] why not get their full worth. If you look, all other teams are attacking upfront all guns blazing but SL. We need the ones who can score quickly face as many deliveries as possible--the current batting line up doesn't allow it well. So I'm going for all out attack. Radical. But this is what we'll need to win the tournament! 1.Mahela Jayawardena 2.Tillakaratne Dilshan 3.Anjelo Mathews 4.Thisara Perera 5.Jeevan Mendis 6.Kumar Sangakkara 7.Dinesh Chandimal 8.Nuwan Kulasekara 9.Shaminda Eranga/Lasith Malinga 10.Ajantha Mendis 11.Akila Dananjaya

Posted by WPDDESILVA on (September 26, 2012, 12:25 GMT)

Against New Zealnd they should do Akila and Mendis together (If Mendis is FIT) - New Zealnd is poor handling spin, even the pitch favours seamers I think they will struggle to handle Mendis and Akila. Munaweera should be dropped, Mahela should open. Mahela, Dilly, Chandimal, Sanga, Thirimanne, Angelo, Thisara, Malinga, Akila, Mendis, Nuwan

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