South Africa v Sri Lanka, 1st ODI, Paarl January 10, 2012

Dilshan wants consistency from his team


From World Cup finalists to stumbling through three consecutive ODI series defeats, Sri Lanka's one-day fortunes have taken a sharp dip in the last 10 months. Every time they have shown signs of bouncing back, they have been struck back down. On their tour of England, they led the five-match series 2-1 before England came back. Against Australia at home, Sri Lanka were down 0-2, lifted themselves to win the third match, only to capitulate to Brett Lee and Xavier Doherty in the fourth. In the UAE, they levelled the series after losing the first match easily against Pakistan, but then lost the next three. Tillakaratne Dilshan, the Sri Lanka captain, said the odd good performance was not enough.

"We played good cricket in those three series at times, but we weren't consistent enough," Dilshan said ahead of the first ODI against South Africa. "If we can be consistent here we can finish well in this series." Sri Lanka have won just five out of the 18 ODIs they have played against South Africa in South Africa, but one of those wins came in the 2009 Champions Trophy, and they also tied the meeting between the sides in the 2003 World Cup, which led to the hosts South Africa exiting the tournament.

Lasith Malinga, the Sri Lanka fast bowler who only plays the limited-over formats, is expected to be his team's trump card and Dilshan said he was glad to have him back. "He is very experienced and is the leader of our attack. It's good that he is back in the side." Malinga took two wickets in Sri Lanka's practice match against an Emerging Cape Cobras side, and established franchise batsmen Richard Levi and Ryan Canning said he was at his fearsome best. There were other heartening signs for Sri Lanka during the game: Upul Tharanga started well, Mahela Jayawardene capitalised after being dropped twice to score 74, and youngsters Lahiru Thirimanne and Dinesh Chandimal contributed.

Thirimanne, 22, has been picked in the ODI squad ahead of more-experienced players, and Dilshan said that was a deliberate ploy to help the team prepare for the next World Cup. "We want to groom a few youngsters for the next World Cup and that's why we have retained Thirimanne. Guys like him need to get as much experience as possible and get ready for the next World Cup. That's the main idea. The selectors and senior players discussed this and I think it's the right way to move forward."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sarath on January 11, 2012, 12:33 GMT

    Sri Lankan fans can't wait till they learn the ways of maintaining consistency a thing which they could not master for the last 15 years even after reaching their age of 35th year. The best thing to do is to replace all these under performing players with the quality youngsters who have been maintaining consistency from their age of 15. The possibility of players who are in a position to maintain some consistency as youngsters to maintain that same momentum in their later career is more than reckless hitters who are always inconsistent. The local selectors yet to learn these vital facts.

  • Barnsley on January 11, 2012, 11:47 GMT

    Surprised players and fans alike make so much fuss over the shorter version of the game, tests are what truly determines what cricketers are made off. Other forms of the game are a circus act, designed purely to entertain, and make business men wealthy.

  • Dummy4 on January 11, 2012, 11:31 GMT

    today all of you will see what sri lanka can do. lets hope for the best

  • Eranga on January 11, 2012, 10:42 GMT

    for all the experts suggesting dilshan is inconsistent.

    from 2009 to 2011 dili averages 44.20 with a SR of 96.07% 9 hundreds 10 fifties. the conversion rate is 47.36.

    Sanga averages 44.00 SR 78.18% 1 hundred 24 fifties. conversion rate 0.04. If you don't know what you are saying please don't say it. Yes dilshan is having a bad time but he is a match winner and has been a consistent performer for the last 3 years. So respect the guy when he deserves it. I would like to see what u experts say when dili gets back in to form. And i is not that far too. If you don't remember what dilshan has done for the team you doesn't deserve to be called SL fans. @AnilKp please remember dilshan must talk to media. He is the captain of the team. He never went i front of media b4 becoming the captain and won't do it after he resigns from captaincy.

  • Arosha on January 11, 2012, 10:15 GMT

    SL team is already consistent, who says they are not ?. They do the same mistakes, again, again, ... and again. Isn't it a kind of consistency ?.

  • Dummy4 on January 11, 2012, 8:55 GMT

    Yes. Dilshan can go & Thirimanne will stay. then we will see consistent performances.

  • Harsha on January 11, 2012, 8:22 GMT

    @mh19 : like explained earlier Malinga retired to play more one day cricket for Sri Lanka.good for him he did that otherwise without being payed by slc he would have no option to make a living.these players are also human beings.when mLinga was really sick few years back no one in slc or sri Lanka supported him financially or to make a living as a citizen.I saw he have mentioned this some time and he said he thought to make sure not to let that happen again.due to the way he bowls there is a risk he can breakdown any I guess he made the decision to retire from test to concentrate other forms of cricket and to prolong his career which is understandable.although I love to see him play test cricket for Sri Lanka I love to see him play some sort of cricket as long as possible and truly understand him and wish him the best.

  • Manesh on January 11, 2012, 7:49 GMT

    Who told Dilshan is not consistent? He is consistent on low scores!

  • Anver on January 11, 2012, 7:34 GMT

    Not individuals... the whole SL team has to work hard unitedly & do something extraordinary in ODI series...otherwise i'm afraid the SA will dominate this series !!!! Whatever my heart is always with SL team so good luck to them !!!!

  • Denham on January 11, 2012, 7:24 GMT

    the bloke who wants the team to be consistent needs to be consistent..... Dilshan 'defined' inconsistency in the last few tours.....

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