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ESPNcricinfo's Andrew Fernando picks his team of the Sri Lanka Premier League
September 1, 2012
Features : Our World T20 squad is a very good mix - Sangakkara
Teams: Sri Lanka
1. Dilshan Munaweera (Uva Next) (212 runs @ strike-rate 144.21)
Came to the tournament as one of the most hyped young talents in the country, and unlike several others, justified that hype with several scorching innings. He saved his best for the final, clubbing five sixes and two fours to catapult Uva Next beyond the Duckworth-Lewis par score and into the Champions League. In doing so, he became the tournament's highest run getter and finished with the second best strike-rate among batsmen who have scored more than 100 runs. The Sri Lankan selectors will now be ecstatic at having picked him for the World Twenty20 after he had had a good start to the SLPL, but had not yet proved himself completely worthy of international selection.
2. Kamran Akmal (wk) (Wayamba United) (203 runs @ 121.48)
Was the tournament's top scorer until he had to leave for national duty in the UAE, having been the rock of Wayamba United's impressive batting order throughout the round robin. Ruthless on anything short, and capable of thrashing the good length balls and full deliveries as well, Akmal mowed 23 fours in five innings - more than anyone else in the SLPL - despite many of the other leading batsmen having played more games.
3. Aaron Finch (Ruhuna Royals) (137 runs @ 130.47)
Asked to bat anywhere in the top four, Finch was one of the few bright spots for an underwhelming Ruhuna Royals side, who were expected to make much more of an impression of the tournament, given their star-studded roll. Finch's 65 from 48 balls against Uthura Rudras was his biggest contribution, though his ability to handle the swinging ball in some of the low scoring matches in Pallekele was equally as important.
4. Angelo Mathews (c ) (Nagenahira Nagas) (211 runs @ 139.73)
Mathews has sometimes been criticised for not being there at the end of an innings often enough, but few who followed him closely at the SLPL will doubt his flair for finishing now. In four times in seven innings Mathews remained unbeaten, and each of those times he had contributed heavily to the team total. His 73 off 27 balls in the final was perhaps the innings of the tournament, as he showcased his ability to score a boundary off almost any ball when well set. Sri Lanka will need him to play a significant role in the World Twenty20 and he has played himself into fine form before the event. His marshalling of an inexperienced Nagenahira attack also added heft to his claim as the next Sri Lanka captain.
5. Chamara Kapugedera (Uthura Rudras) (178 runs @ 143.54)
Had a quiet start to the tournament, but his stunning 69 not out to resurrect Uthura's chase against Basnahira Cricket Dundee and finally ignite their campaign was filled with the arrogant hitting that earned him several extended runs in Sri Lanka's limited-overs sides. Sadly for him, his SLPL performances were not enough to retain his place in the national team. Perhaps the selectors have finally run short of patience following a long stretch of failures, or maybe they think some time away from the top level will do him good. Either way, he reminded fed-up fans of the dazzling talent he possesses, even if it has not been in evidence for Sri Lanka.
6. Thisara Perera (Kandurata Warriors) (128 runs @ 172.97)
Was not himself with the ball, but earns a place in the XI through his batting alone. His 72 from 33 balls was the highlight of his campaign, as he rescued Kandurata from a collapse to put them on course for a competitive score. He will be disappointed by his waywardness with the ball, and will hope his knack for making vital breakthroughs returns for Sri Lanka in September.
7. Jacob Oram (Uva Next) (82 runs @ 167.34, 11 wickets @ strike-rate 12.50)
Oram was not initially picked up in the draft, but Uva Next will be thankful that James Franklin - their original allrounder - was picked for New Zealand's Test tour of India, forcing them to take Oram on. With a scarcely believable economy-rate of 3.82 in his 23 overs in the tournament, and a league-leading 11 wickets to boot, it is fair to say Oram was the engine room of a victorious Uva campaign. With the bat, his 41 from 17 balls in the semi-final knocked the wind out of favourites Wayamba United's sails, and his opening spell of 1 for 9 from three overs in the final allowed his side to keep their target at a manageable level despite Mathews' heroics.
8. Sachithra Senanayake (Uva Next) (8 wickets @ 18)
Didn't make a huge impact in any single game, but was crucial for Uva during the middle overs when he backed up Oram's parsimony with cheap spells of his own. His doosra is one of the more readable variations in the game, but he used it sparingly to good effect, particularly when batsmen were looking to aggress. Contributed with the bat on occasion, and was a livewire in the field, and that, combined with his economy rate is what sees him pip Ajantha Mendis for a place in the XI, despite Mendis having taken more wickets.
9. Shaminda Eranga (Nagenahira Nagas) (11 wickets @ 13.6)
The man of the tournament - though only because semi-final and final performances were not taken into account - Eranga, like Oram, led the league in wickets with 11 to his name. He was the lynchpin of Nagenahira's attack, who were formidable when Eranga was intense, but friendly when not in the groove. Startled batsmen with plenty of pace off the pitch and also moved it appreciably off the seam in both directions.
10. Sohail Tanvir (Kandurata Warriors) (11 wickets @ 10)
The most penetrative seam bowler in the tournament, and though he was occasionally expensive, he was often unplayable. He swung the white ball as far as it's ever likely been swung in Sri Lanka, and while he was a handful in Colombo, batsmen were forced to just see his overs out on a lively Pallekele surface. Of the bowlers locked on 11 wickets, he had played the least matches.
11. Akila Dananjaya (Wayamba United) (9 wickets @ 14.6)
Plucked from complete obscurity by Mahela Jayawardene and Graham Ford, Dananjaya's first foray into professional cricket has been as successful as anyone could have hoped. Even Jayawardene has spoken of his surprise at the apparent ease with which Dananjaya has performed in the limelight. Some have hailed him as Sri Lanka's next spin hope, and though that assessment is as unfair as it is premature, there is something in the way in which the 18-year-old manages his variations. The World Twenty20 will really test what he is made of.
Second XI: Imran Nazir, Tamim Iqbal, Mahela Jayawardene, Cameron Borgas, Shoaib Malik, Abdul Razzaq, Kaushalya Weeraratne, Isuru Udana, Umar Gul, Rangana Herath, Ajantha Mendis
Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Sri LankaFeeds: Andrew Fidel Fernando
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