Sri Lanka v England, 3rd ODI, Hambantota December 2, 2014

Kandamby set for Sri Lanka comeback

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Opportunity for youngsters - Thirimanne

If the mastery of spin and the flags in the stands had not made it clear Sri Lanka are enjoying home conditions, then the teams' training schedules over the past week has laid this truth out.

As day-long northeast monsoon rains break up and recede into the sunset hours by late November, Sri Lanka have been wise to switch their training times to the morning. They had been scheduled to train under lights, but for the second time in a week a late-afternoon thunderstorm arrived at the ground at the same time as England, by which time Sri Lanka had completed their practice and departed.

It may all come to little. The forecast is not good for the next two days. But with Mahela Jayawardene unavailable for this match, vice-captain Lahiru Thirimanne said Sri Lanka's top order has the chance to prepare for another rainy day, a few months in the future.

"Mahela is a big loss. He is normally our backbone, because he strengthens up our middle order," Thirimanne said. "But this is a good challenge for our younger players as well, because we have to replace him some day. This is an opportunity for them to show what they're capable of. "

Sri Lanka have drafted Ashan Priyanjan into the squad as cover, but the team manager confirmed that he is unlikely be in the XI on Wednesday. Thilina Kandamby, 32, is likely to play his first ODI since 2011 instead. With middle order spots still up for grabs in the short term, Jayawardene's replacement will seek to earn a World Cup berth as well.

But the exact team combination, and batting spots, will also depend on the weather. A shortened game might see Sri Lanka move closer to their T20 blueprint. Thirimanne has already been moved around plenty in his relatively brief career, so he hopes for some stability in his role. "I don't think I will move up to take Mahela's spot, because I will play my normal number six position, hopefully. We'll have to see about the length of the game. According to that, I'm ready to play at any position.

"We had a good match last game, so the boys are really looking forward to this match. Confidence levels are really high. Hopefully we can play a full fifty over match tomorrow.

"I think it's a must-win game for us, because if we win tomorrow, we'll have a good chance of winning the series on the seventh."

Sri Lanka's 2014 dominance over England has in part been due to their muzzling of Alastair Cook. The England captain has 10 and 22 in the series so far, as the din for his exit from the ODI side grows louder. Thirimanne hoped his team could extend Cook's poor stretch, just as they had done in the summer, when Cook only crossed fifty once in eight innings against Sri Lanka, across all formats.

"We all know he's a very good batsman. We have to apply pressure on him, because if we do that, the whole team will be a little bit under pressure. Hopefully we can get him out early tomorrow as well. Normally every batsman goes through rough patches, but we want to concentrate on our bowling."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on December 3, 2014, 14:28 GMT

    As anyone could clearly predict, slightest bounce/seam found on a local-deck by English Seamers... there goes Kusal Perera for another duck, yet again in just 4 balls ! As seen in every such occasion, during the past couple of years in his 39 odis !

    In Eng- Aus -Ire -WI (Overall seaming, bouncy conditions): 13 odis - 104 runs - Av 11.5 - S/R 48.7! On India's latest decks (Sheer pace/bounce & initial seam): 3 Odis - 04 runs - Av 1.3 - S/R 26.6

    Dear SLC hierarchy responsible for the selections, you owe some explanation to the ardent cricket fans of SL for all this inexplicable happenings, that make no sense at-all..!

    Why are you not giving a substantial chance to our most experienced young opener, Upul Tharanga since 2013 (29 yrs- 5k+ runs, 13x100 + 28x50…with numerous batting records & 13 match awards).? Why did you still prefer failures like Kandamby & Kusal Perera over him, especially after such a long string of miserable failures bringing chaos to the top-order batting? Shame!

  • Ted on December 3, 2014, 11:44 GMT

    Kusal Perera who is the vital pivot of SL's top-order failure since Tharanga's services were virtually aborted just after SL's last (double) century first wicket partnership with MJ!

    56 vs BD - in SL - 6th odi- March 2013

    0 (1b), 6 (11b), 4 (3b), 4 (10b), 2(4b), 9(16b) - Vs Nz, Eng, Aus, Ind, SA - in England & WI

    Up to July 2013 - 6 odis - 25 r - Av 4.1 - playing in Eng & WI 64 Vs Pak - in Sharjah - 13th odi - Dec 2013 - 2nd 50+ after Nine months of total failure!

    6 odis - 106 runs- Av 17.6 (in BD & Sarjah) 106 vs BD - in BD - 20th odi - Feb 2014 - Only one 100 up to now!

    64 Vs Ind - in BD - 22nd odi- Feb 2014 - 3rd 50+ after 2 months

    12 odis - 194 r -Av 19.5

    (152 runs - Av 25.3 - from 6 odis played in BD & SL)

    (Just 42 r - Av 7.0 - from 6 odis played in Eng/Ire/Ind)

    59 vs Eng - in SL - 35th odi- Nov 2014 - 4th 50+ after Nine months of total failure!

    Kusal's intolerable saga continues at the top with 9 (10b) -2nd odi & LATEST 4 b DUCK -3rd odi

    KEEP GOING SLC :))

  • Chatty on December 3, 2014, 3:22 GMT

    It is funny how so many people are concerned about SL's future in cricket! LOL, as the kids say! SL are a well oiled machine. They will keep producing surprising packages. SL's demise has been predicted many times before, and such statements are hugely exaggerated. As a small country, SL certainly does not have the talent pool that India has, for example. But they make use of their talent far more efficiently. It should not really be a surprise. It is also the same reason that makes SL the most economically and socially advanced country in the region, despite decades of brutal war. Finally about Kandamby: As a stop gap measure, yes. But not a long term prospect.

  • Steven on December 3, 2014, 2:22 GMT

    Kandamby thirimanne seriously those two are the weak links in the Sri Lankan batting that's for sure they are journeyman players those two spots should be taken by young players cos with the old pros near the end Sri Lanka needs to find young talent not journeyman players Sri Lanka are in trouble I think these wins over England are just papering over a lot of cracks wait til they get to the World Cup there players won't be able to adjust to the better wickets down under

  • Android on December 3, 2014, 1:52 GMT

    the recall of the kandamby is a great call to replace mahela.because he can play an anchor role.But unfortunately struggles when he try to boost up.I would suggests kaushal Silva or dikkwalla to replace dilShan after his retirement.thrimanne should replace sanga & kandambi should replace mahela .their need to be chapu at the 6 to gives the finishing touch.

  • Android on December 3, 2014, 1:39 GMT

    @amuni12-what about malinga & sachi.sachi will return to the squad in the middle of this series & malinga will return to the new Zealand series.can't u remember this is the same lineup that outplayed India in the final

  • Anura on December 3, 2014, 1:11 GMT

    neither of these teams are worthy of a semi final berth at WC. SL lacks the bowling attack.

  • Jerry on December 3, 2014, 0:51 GMT

    @jb633. I disagree completely with your last comment regarding that SL would be worst side after the retirment of the current greats. Remember hearing the same thing been said when Aravinda, Arjuna and later with Vaas,Murali retirement. The next generation of SL cricketers would keep the country up with the best. Would anyone have said that Herath would be a top ranked bowler in the world after the retirement of Murali?.

  • Dummy4 on December 2, 2014, 18:46 GMT

    Have to agree with jb633. Playing at RPS stadium in Colombo & Hambantota is not preparing them for faster, bouncier wickets in Australia . Chandimal is younger & a keeper. Someone needs to eventually replace Sangakkara .

  • Jon on December 2, 2014, 16:59 GMT

    Perfect experince for the lad to whack about some sub standard bowling and get that average up to scratch. I still fail to see what SL are learning from this tour and how it benefits them for Aus. Playing on slow, rank turners is never their challenge. Thisara Perera has looked very good but the other seamers have looked average to me. I worry about SL cricket in the long term. I have always liked them but they rely so much on the old guard and I don't see the talent coming through that I see from India or Australia. They are beating the worst ODI side in cricket but they were recently humiliated by India. What this says about England is another story but surely they need to try and blood the youngsters in games sooner rather than later. I wouldn't be suprised at all if they were one of the worst sides in world cricket following the retirements of the greats like MJ, Sanga, Herath and Dilshan. This series really is not proving anything.

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