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Sri Lanka's marks out of ten for the Test series against Bangladesh
Andrew Fidel Fernando
March 20, 2013
Kumar Sangakkara (441 runs at 110.25)
After making 142, 105 and 139 in his first three innings, a 55 in his final trip to the crease brought his average plummeting into the low 100s. The tons in Galle came on one of the flattest wickets he is likely to ever have played on, but the 139 in the first innings at the Premadasa led the rescue efforts for his side. He was under a little more pressure in this series, given the inexperience of the men batting around him, but by the end of the second Test, Bangladesh's bowlers might have his image burned into the back of their retinas.
Rangana Herath (14 wickets at 23.78)
Where would Sri Lanka be without the tireless efforts of Rangana Herath? One shudders to think. On what was effectively a flattened rock in Galle, he spun plenty past the bat and kept it tight throughout, before blowing through Bangladesh twice in Colombo. Completed a richly deserved 12-wicket haul on his birthday, and since Muttiah Muralitharan's departure, four of Sri Lanka's five Test wins have featured Herath five-fors. The only negative for Sri Lanka is that Herath is already 35.
Dinesh Chandimal (218 runs at 218, four catches and three stumpings)
At 23, Chandimal's cricket already seems thoughtful, though it has not lost the exhilaration of his early international innings. In Galle he made as streaky a hundred as he will ever want to make. His 102 in Colombo, however, was by far the more superior effort. He arrived at 69 for 4, struggled early on, but pieced his defence together methodically and played the long, responsible innings his side needed of him.
His keeping was also excellent, which actually puts the Sri Lanka selectors in a quandary. Chandimal is better equipped to face the newer swinging ball than either Angelo Mathews or Lahiru Thirimanne, but he bats below both of them. He will also be loathe to give up the gloves, given he has proved proficient behind the stumps, and enjoys the role.
Tillakaratne Dilshan (237 runs at 59.25, 3 wickets at 55.66)
His hundred and one of his fifties came in Galle, and the second against a waning Bangladesh attack who did a poor job of defending a modest total, but at least he prevented any major scares as Sri Lanka strode towards victory. A wild stroke in the first innings in Colombo began the sequence that put Sri Lanka in a difficult position, but you expect that from Dilshan, who justifies such indiscretions with successful audacity on other occasions. Wheeled away without complaint when he was required to bowl, and largely kept a good line and created several chances.
Lahiru Thirimanne (170 runs at 170)
Scores virtually all these points for his 155 not out, which despite having come in Galle, was chanceless and impeccably paced. After a tough baptism in international cricket in 2011, he is making the most of his talent now, and gives the impression that he understands the nuances of putting a price on one's wicket and composing long innings. Has a tendency to get out driving away from his body, which is something he will have to work on, if he is to eventually take the No.3 spot that he is seemingly being groomed for.
Angelo Mathews (94 at 47)
Not a bad first-up series as captain, but he will want to improve his output as a batsman, particularly if he is to remain at No. 5 in the long term. His field placements were generally very good, but he chopped and changed bowlers when they seemed to be settling into their work. He will face far sterner tests in the years to come, and some patience in the field and more leadership with bat in hand will serve him and his side well. Did not improve a bowling average that hovers around 70.
Shaminda Eranga (6 wickets at 35.16)
Was the best seam bowler from both teams, but given the paucity of the pace attacks, that is perhaps not saying an awful lot. He had a decent start in Galle, and had noticeably improved his bowling action since the tour of Australia, but was unable to blast out wickets there, despite being the fastest bowler in the match. In Colombo, he was consistent, and got wickets through movement, modest though it was. The best long-term seam option for Sri Lanka at the moment, and he will need to continue to improve if the side is to become a major force in Test cricket.
Nuwan Kulasekara (5 wickets at 38)
On occasion, he swung the ball substantially, but he could not find that swing consistently enough to be truly penetrative. Neither of the pitches offered much seam off the surface, which made him less effective, but he needs to find a way to sustain his threat even when the wicket goes dead for bowlers like him, as they often do in Sri Lanka. There is debate whether he can ever be a good Test bowler given his lack of pace, but given that indiscipline has plagued the fast bowlers in recent series, the control he offers can be an asset.
Kithuruwan Vithanage (71 runs at 35.50)
Batted only twice in the series, but his fifty in Galle was an encouraging one. Unafraid to play his shots, of which he has many, Vithanage earned his way into the team with a big, aggressive century in the tour match, and will likely now be first in-line to be handed an extended run in Tests of the first-class star performers. Was a quick and reliable in the field too.
Ajantha Mendis (2 wickets at 87.50)
The list of Test teams against whom he can be effective appears to grow shorter by the series. It is forgivable that he did not pose a wicket-taking threat in Galle, but he was wayward too, and dished up rank full tosses and woeful long-hops with worrying regularity. There is considerable spin-bowling talent in Sri Lanka (not least in Tharindu Kaushal who spent his second full series on the bench, waiting to debut), and the selectors need to make a call on whether Mendis will ever be a quality Test spinner, or at least, should only be used in situations where conditions are stacked heavily in his favour.
Dimuth Karunaratne (77 runs at 19.25)
The most notable failure in Sri Lanka's top order, and now the young batsman under the most pressure to begin stringing together good scores. He has now played six Tests, but crossed 50 only twice. Also tends to get out driving outside the off stump, and though his aggression can be an asset, his shot-selection could do with fine-tuning. Given he is trialling to be an opener - a place Sri Lanka have struggled to fill in recent years - he will likely get more opportunities in the years to come.
Suranga Lakmal (0 wickets from 25 overs in Colombo)
Was strangely taken out of the attack when he was bowling well on the first morning, but failed to match that short burst in quality for the remainder of the match. Got little to no movement in the air or off the pitch, with new or old ball, and at no stage showed any real menace. But he will probably continue to be part of the larger pace battery Sri Lanka are looking to develop, and has the time to improve.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Andrew Fidel Fernando
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