South Africa v Sri Lanka, 5th ODI, Johannesburg

Happy to see youngsters perform - Dilshan

Firdose Moonda at the Wanderers

January 23, 2012

Comments: 28 | Text size: A | A

Lahiru Thirimanne scored 69 off 63 balls, South Africa v Sri Lanka, 5th ODI, Johannesburg, January 22, 2012
Lahiru Thirimanne: "In the Test match, I had to handle a very sharp pace attack as an opener and that was an experience which will help me in the future." © AFP

For the third time on this tour, a Sri Lanka youngster played a vital role in a victory. Bear in mind that Sri Lanka have only won three matches on this tour and it will tell you the importance that the up and coming cricketers have had on the six-week tour of South Africa.

Lahiru Thirimanne's composed 69 off 63 balls was a performance worthy of the Man of the Match award. Even though he didn't get it, he was the man considered important enough to discuss the match with the media, the task usually given to the person who wins the award, after the day's events.

He said he took his innings in his stride even though the task facing him was an enormous one. "When I went in to bat, the asking-rate was 6.80 and it was a difficult situation to adjust to," Thirimanne said. "Kumar [Sangakkara] guided me and we narrowed the gap and got into a situation that was manageable."

Thirimanne was brought on the tour as a reserve opener in the Tests and got his opportunity when Tharanga Paranavitana was dropped. He had to wait for a similar situation in the ODIs and was picked in the starting XI when Mahela Jayawardene got injured. He said that the lessons he learnt on his visit to South Africa will serve him well as his career grows.

"In the Test match, I had to handle a very sharp pace attack as an opener and that was an experience which will help me in the future. The main adjustment one has to make when playing in South Africa is to adapt to the bounce of the wicket," he said. "In the one-dayers, my role was to rotate the strike and try to prolong the innings but I was unable to. In this game I played that role quite well, rotated the strike and hit boundaries that helped us win the game."

While Thirimanne recalled his series with careful thoroughness, Sri Lanka's captain Tillakaratne Dilshan sat with a small smile on his face. He would return home empty handed but he had achieved something that may prove more important in Sri Lanka's future.

"In the last few series I gave the opportunity to youngsters, especially in this series, and we saw them doing it [well] for Sri Lanka," Dilshan said. "I am really happy to do that and to see that they grabbed the opportunities and performed under pressure. I believe in my youngsters, that's the future for Sri Lanka. I want to give them more chances in the middle, so they can get experience. Maybe after the next three to four months, there will be more experienced players in the side. They are showing that they are ready for an international challenge."

Although Dilshan did not lead with the bat, he showed signs of real leadership with his decisions in the field and the faith he showed in the youngsters. Whether he will continue in the position for long enough to see them establish themselves in the national team remains to be seen. Rumours are rising that Dilshan will be replaced as captain before the tri-series in Australia but he said if he asked to carry on, he will do so. "If they offer it to me I will take it, because I am really enjoying my captaincy."

Sri Lankan cricket is set for a mini overhaul in the next few weeks, with Graham Ford confirmed as the new coach in the wake of the Geoff Marsh sacking. It leaves this series little room for context besides acting as the catalyst for major action from the Sri Lanka board.

For Dilshan, there is more to it than just that. A Test win, two victories in the ODIs and to come close in Bloemfontein, which could have changed the complexion of the limited-overs series altogether, was cause to celebrate. "Before we came here everyone thought we were the underdog but we proved we are one of the best sides in the world, especially in one-dayers," he said. "Hopefully, we can carry this performance into the next few tours."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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Posted by FadeToBlack on (January 24, 2012, 5:51 GMT)

@Vijit Coomara Very well said. Can't believe the number of our guys calling for Mahela's head. Very short term memory.

Posted by   on (January 24, 2012, 5:13 GMT)

Please do not drop Thirimanne just to keep Mahela the captain in the team. He is now well passed his use by date. Mahela you should retire with dignity. Why SL and INDIAN cricketers like to play until they are 40.

Posted by playitstraight on (January 23, 2012, 22:41 GMT)

SL are finding some valuable youngsters for the future, Chandimal, Thirimanne, Tharanga, and Matthews are all great guys. Thirimanne and Tharanga need to be given more chances in Tests though.

Posted by   on (January 23, 2012, 18:43 GMT)

Come on guys. It was a great innings from Thirimanne for sure but it was just one knock. But seriously, he is not yet anywhere in the league of Mahela. Do any of you remember one of the greatest world cup innings of all time in a losing cause less than a year ago against India? I guess not!! Thirimanne will have his day for sure, but not yet. Some of you so called Sri Lankan fans are just like the management. Just look at their stupid Knee jerk reaction resulting in the firing of Marsh. Mahela has had a bad patch I agree, but its natural for all cricketers to go through this. Let's support him just like we should support Samaraweera or Marsh.Mahela has been one of our greatest and has a lot more to contribute not just as a player but as captain.

Posted by mohanan on (January 23, 2012, 16:04 GMT)

The need for Samaraweera arises on a situation like 43 all out.

Posted by Mridul_Nepal on (January 23, 2012, 15:47 GMT)

Thirimanne: A right handed Atapattu !!

Posted by   on (January 23, 2012, 13:53 GMT)

I think Dilshan should be the captain for sometime... If he gets a good support from the seniors like Sanga in the last ODI.. He can bring our national team to a higher level. There is no cricketer in the team who has cricketing talent than Dilshan.. He can bat, bowl, field and keep wicket as well. See.. When he get a good start, team always get a big opportunity to win matches... I don't think anyone in the present team can lead the team better than Dilshan in South Africa... He failed in the overall picture.. But some memories he kept can not be removed in any day... Like the test win and winning 2 consecutive games by chasing 300+.. (That was only the 2nd time in history of cricket)..

Posted by ca2ca on (January 23, 2012, 13:45 GMT)

Some players like Mahela, Sanga and even Matthews think they have a special right to be in SL eleven though they are not performing. Mainly Mahela. What has he done since WC 2011 final. His contributions are very lean. Also Mattews. As an all rounder he is flop. Great to see young players have courage and patience to face tough face bowling. Biggest weakness we have is bowling. Dilhara and Ajantha Mendis are done and be gone. I suggest give Chandimal, Tirimanne, Thisara and also Banuka R more chances to get experience.

Posted by Thilan.R.M on (January 23, 2012, 13:16 GMT)

Thirimanna , Chandimal , Thisara & Sachithra they played very well for SL & they see the world what they can do. Now I think SL future is perfect all the youngsters in the form, that is very good for team that give a more presure for senior player. WELL DONE SRI LANKA WELL DONE YOUNGERSTERS

Posted by Kavum on (January 23, 2012, 12:07 GMT)

Apart from Thirimanne, did the youngsters really perform in this game? A reality check is needed by SL fans. Perera 0/64 at 9.14 RPO and faied with the bat. Chandimal strike rate of 57% when we needed 6 RPO plus. Mathews and Sachitra - below average contributions at best. Tharanga, Dilshan, Sanga and Thirimanne did the scoring. The next highest was extras. Also Kallis (world's best all rounder), Amla (world's best ODI batter) and Steyn (world's best international bowler) were all missing. So SL can take the positives and congrats for hanging in there, but don't think this is some marvelous victory or that 3-2 is a glorious fightback. Even Kepler would not say this was a SAf second XI but we did not beat their best team. Overconfidence or cockiness will be our worst enemy in Australia. As for dropping Mahela at this point: Suggest you get your head examined SL_Cric!

Posted by KingOwl on (January 23, 2012, 11:52 GMT)

Fantastic performance by SL - the best ever in SA. If the rain did not intervene in the third one dayer, SL had a very good chance to share the test and one day series. Even without that, to win one test and 2 one dayers is fantastic. I can now see the day when SL will beat SA in SA. I think SA have big problems ahead. If this is how they perform at home, I shudder to think what awaits them in SL during their next trip!

Posted by CricketMaan on (January 23, 2012, 11:26 GMT)

Best in the world? What is Dilshan bragging about here..

Posted by Lord.emsworth on (January 23, 2012, 11:12 GMT)

Great win SA. Felicitations De Villiers for brilliant batting in the series. Despite the shambles of their cricketing organization SL did make a decent tour, losing the Tests 1/3 and ODI's 2/3 which well have been 3/2 but for D & L. I would still say a few words about Upul Tharanga, the unsung hero of SL cricket. He has scored over 4,400 ODI runs with 12 hundreds and 22 fifties (Including 25 sixers), yet none of the cricket journalists ever speak of him in the same glowing terms they describe the other 'stars' in the SL team. Even in this series Tharanga gave SL great starts. Why he is always unsung and rarely given due credit for his work is a mystery. He receives a mention now and then but it ends there. A tsunami survivor he deserves much more credit than what is miserly shown to him.

Posted by Lion_96 on (January 23, 2012, 10:40 GMT)

thats a great effort by the boys. The biggest positive from this tour, is the performance of the youngsters. But the bottom line is, we have now lost our last four ODI & Test Series (ENG, AUS, PAK & SAF). The fact that Dilshan says we are one of the best sides in the world "esp. One Day cricket" is laughable, to say the least. All this talk about the future and we have 35 - years old captaining the team. I am convinced this is Dilshan's last Tour as Captain, if he doesn't get the sack, well I am not sure, when we can get a young captain in the team. Mathews is would be my captain, and Sanga would be Vice Captain.

Posted by   on (January 23, 2012, 10:39 GMT)

Well done .What great game of cricket.SA played their heart out to make it 4-1 but we faced the challenge with an amazing character.Great team effort and nice to see someone take the responsibility to carry the momentum until the end though we choked a bit during the last few overs.The good work which was done under immense pressure cannot be undermined by any means.It seems like Dilshan is getting the hang of captaincy at last and we'll have to wait and see what the selectors think.Change of coach before ending his tenure without a valid reason is questionable and in the long run foreign coaches will think twice before accepting a job in SL which is not good.

Posted by   on (January 23, 2012, 9:28 GMT)

Sri Lanka should play 7 batsmen & ask Mathews to bowl more..Chandimal & Thirimanne are world class.they should be regulars.Dilshan can share 4-5 overs.So my batting line up is Dilshan,Tharanga,Sanga,Chandimal,Thirimanne,Mahela & MAthews...Then Tissara @ 8.followed by bowlers.If we play this batting lineup it can be easily the best in the world.We can keep J.Mendis too in the squad.I always feel WE NEED 7 BATSMEN.that gives massive confidence for the top order.

Posted by zerotollerance on (January 23, 2012, 9:24 GMT)

Awesome batting display by the Sri lankans. Good work by young tirimanne. Now two matches won without mahela. Hop the Same team is selected for the AUS series. Dilshan should stay a captain, he might look like a emotional wreck, but he is 100% Sri lankan at heart,. Mahela should have the common decency o retire now, and sanga should follow suit not that far behind.

Posted by sdharma on (January 23, 2012, 9:13 GMT)

I don't see any rationale of replacing Dilshan with Mahela who was the main culprit for the set back in the recent games.What Dilshan can do if no one is performing as a team? We certainly have raw talent and venom amonst the youngsters who need more exposure. I believe Mahela should be rested for next tour and given the chance to these kids who comes with sheer desire to perform in big events. If you analize the status we have done very well in SA, than most of the teams. We had unimaginable win in the tests and almost bagged the one day series.There is nothing even the coach could do when senoirs are not performing.It is irratonal and unfair to do major overhauling as predicted otherthan replacing guys like Mahela/Kaushal/mendis/Paranawithana for better players n the coming series.

Posted by   on (January 23, 2012, 9:03 GMT)

Youngsters are the future. Well done Lankans!

Posted by   on (January 23, 2012, 7:05 GMT)

wow..What a Classy innings from Young Thirimanne.Weldone kid.Keep it up.The main problem with Sri lankan cricket is limited opportunities for youngsters.Selectors and the team management is always contiue with the old brands though they are contentiously failing.Newcomers like Chandimal,Thirimanne,Sachitra,Eranga shows they are more than enough to take over the fortunes of the future Sri Lankan Cricket.No doubt new selection committee is having so much of vital decisions up front.1.If PJ is fully fit ,are they going to drop chandimal in tests? 2.If mahela is fully fit are they going to drop Thirimanne for ODIs.3.If Jeevan & Ajanth fully fit are they going to drop Sachitra. I must say If Chandimal & Thirimanne is contiuesly playing like this.....the place of the big guns like Dilshan,Mahela & Mathews is not guaranteed.......Since recently,they are proving that they are the match winners than the big guns .......

Posted by stormy16 on (January 23, 2012, 6:58 GMT)

Yes the youngsters have done well and SL should continue to give them opportunities. It amazes me to see the number of call for Samaraweera to be incliuded in the one day side which lacks logic given he is not a proven one day players and is on the wrong side of 35 and more importatnly, takes the position of a youngster who may turn in to a star. With SL's ageing batting order, all opportunities should be given to the next generation to come through instead of calling for Samaraweera on the basis of his test record.

Posted by Black_Rider on (January 23, 2012, 6:55 GMT)

A Great match guys.I think this is the 9th(may be 8th) time where we achieved 300+ runs in the second inning and won.They are all in foreign conditions.What an achievement.We found 3 youngsters in this series.Cool Thirimanne,,Dashing Chandimal was great with the bat.Sachitra is a wonderful bowler.He will come good.Lets take this momentum to Australia.Good Luck and All the Best Guys.

Posted by gzawilliam on (January 23, 2012, 5:57 GMT)

This is the reason South africa dont end up as world number 1 very often. They win a series and then pull the brakes and lose the rest of the games. Which means teams that are more ruthless like india(usually) and australia/england wipe the series and get much needed rankings points.. SA have a lot to learn if they want to be number 1 in any form of the game for long.

Posted by SL_Cric on (January 23, 2012, 5:49 GMT)

Real question now to be asked is, should there a place to MAHELA in the ODI SQUAD. During last Ten months period our TEAM performance became to WORST and even we were ALL OUT for 43....Many changes done and nothing WORKED...

But once Mahels DROPPED from the TEAM we started to WIN...Chased 299 very esily in the first match after Mahela dropping and in next game 312 was also chased and WON...Now our team have the CONFIDENCE to chace any SCORE like we had in 1996.

Youngters like Thirimanne, Chandimal, Thisara showed how to perform and how to PLAY MORE POSITIVELY.I think this team is good for next AUSTRALIAN TOUR and MAHELA should be DROPPED...If we target next world cup these yongsters should be given more chances, so there SHOULD NOT BE A PLACE to MAHELA in the SQUAD as MOST OF US SRI LANKEN SPECTORS AGREED.

Posted by AsimPK on (January 23, 2012, 5:27 GMT)

Wall done by the Sri Lanka to bear SA in two times chasing 300 Runs give them some relief. But India are suffering very badly, their media create so much hype before the series and during this. But the reality is that there Big Guns are passed their prime time and rightly said that its right time to take retirement from Cricket i.e VVS Laxman, Darvid and Tendulkir b/c they whitewash ing England tour and now against Australia, only one time in six innings they scored 300 runs. Pakistan also lost 3 test series in 2009-2010 in Australia but they have close finish b/c the bowling is strong and batting is not good as required. Tomorrow the last test is began and India have their last chance to win or alt east draw the match. And in 2nd Test against England the pressure is on Pakistan b/c England have a very good side and have the ability to come back strongly, not like Indian whole the series they said to came back strongly but the result is tale the story

Posted by   on (January 23, 2012, 5:25 GMT)

Finally Lions hitaback like Tsunami. South Africa couldn't handle it.

Posted by anver777 on (January 23, 2012, 5:12 GMT)

Certainly Chandimal is the pick of the tour for SL... a real prospect for future !!!!

Posted by riteshcruise on (January 23, 2012, 5:04 GMT)

Lahiru Thirimanne's is Sri Lanka's answer to available # 5 Slot in the ODI squad and possibly the Test in the future.

I sense he is going to be bigger than Virat how he is for India.

CB series will be an interesting contest.

Regards, RC

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