Sri Lanka v New Zealand, 2nd ODI, Hambantota November 11, 2013

Washout forces SL rethink on young players

Angelo Mathews, the Sri Lanka captain, admitted a washed-out first match will likely force the hosts to field their best XI again on Tuesday, altering earlier plans to make player development the focus of the last two games of the series against New Zealand.

Before the tour, Mathews had said Sri Lanka would seek a series victory before entertaining thoughts of blooding new talent, but chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya suggested before the first game that he would like to try new players sooner.

Middle-order batsman Ashan Priyanjan, opener Kusal Perera and fast bowler Suranga Lakmal have all been earmarked as future players, but did not find a place in the top XI, while even two young batsmen who make the team batted well out of position. Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne would likely have moved up the order, displacing the senior batsmen, if Sri Lanka had won the first match convincingly.

"We were thinking of making a change to the team after the first match, depending on what the result was," Mathews said ahead of the second game. "Now we've got to rethink that, because this match was a no-result. As I've said before, winning the series is our priority, and to do that we have to win both games."

Sri Lanka have already invested much in youth this year - Mathews' captaincy is itself a result of the policy - and Mathews has often been adamant that packing the team with young players does not benefit them or the team. Sri Lanka have already fielded a batsman who has played only two previous ODIs in Dimuth Karunaratne, and Mathews said plenty was already being done to secure the team's future.

"If you look at our batting lineup right now, apart from TM Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, the other four in the top seven are all young cricketers, so there has to be a balance. If you look at the bowling, Nuwan Kulasekara and Lasith Malinga have been doing well, so we've taken the decision to play them. The young players have to be brought into the team, but the team has to also be winning and doing well."

Opener Karunaratne was dismissed for a golden duck in the first game, but Mathews suggested the batsman deserved a longer stretch in the side, given his recent form in List A cricket. Karunaratne is also approaching a period of greater responsibility in Tests, as the retirement of Dilshan will likely result in another rookie opener joining Karunaratne.

"If you pick a player, you have to give him appropriate opportunity to show what he's got. Dimuth has been constantly among the runs for the Sri Lanka A team. He was unfortunate to be out first ball, but he's a good player and I'm confident he'll do well in the matches to come."

Mathews said he was largely pleased about Sri Lanka's total of 288 for 9 in the first match, but said they should have batted better in the last ten overs after all three seniors had been dismissed. Mathews remained unbeaten, hitting 74 from 64, but received little support from the lower middle order.

"At 40 overs we had over 210 runs [216], and our plan then was to go past 300. But we lost wickets and that was a setback. Chandimal and Thirimanne's wickets had a big effect on that, but in the end I was happy with the total. I think we had a great chance to win."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Cric-Aus-SL on November 12, 2013, 7:51 GMT

    I don't think thirimane got proper techniques as his shot selection has no varieties, He is more of an upul tharanga like guy..

    But chandimal is a solid player technically sounded with aggressiveness and his wicket keeping skills may make him as a right replacement for Sangakkara..

    Kushal Perera should be given with more chances, he is there to have a go and that is his natural game..

  • Cric-Aus-SL on November 12, 2013, 7:45 GMT

    first be professionals,try to win the games and keep the rhythm.. this is utter nonsense that talking about youngsters and seniors.First be perfect in the present then think about the future..

  • Kristy on November 12, 2013, 7:35 GMT

    Now next match is in Dambulla? Does it rain in Dambulla too? as the site predict today match will be washed out.. if it rains in Dabulla that match will be washed out too.. question.. how hard is it to make day and night match to just a day match? I think if they play just a day match and also over reduced match,,, like 35 overs both sides can bat... other wise same like last match..

  • UDShehan on November 12, 2013, 7:14 GMT

    I think SL doing point of dropping seniors when they perform well & there are six youngsters in the team so y should we play to lose matches.every match is important so no point of thinking 2015 WC if we lose matches from now it self.

  • dummy4fb on November 12, 2013, 7:07 GMT

    Man we are not saying bring in more young players we are saying promote the young players that are there higher up the order. The only player i would like to see make his debut is Roshen Silva who is a really consistent middle order batsmen.

  • jimbond on November 12, 2013, 4:04 GMT

    Chadimal and Thirimanne are okay, they can possibly improve to be good enough to belong at the international level some day. However, Kushal looks pretty ordinary- doesnt seem to put his brain in batting. Even Suranga Lakmal is quite mediocre.. Mathews is okay as an allrounder in ODIs and T20s, but his bowling is not good enough at the test level. Kulasekhara and Thisara Perera are better bowling allrounders who can actually win matches for this team- I wonder why Thisara is not being played.

  • SriLankanYoungBlood on November 12, 2013, 1:07 GMT

    that means no chance to new comer in 3 rd match also. 3 seniors will play 2 T20 matches also. this will lead SL team become kenya like team in a future. in 1996,1999,2003 kenya is much stronger team who can beat top cricket nation any time. but they only rely on Tikala,Odumbe and few other seniors. they don't try to groom youngsters. now they pay d price. as the things going on 3 seniors will play until 2020,2025 and play top order.then sorry 4 kusal,chandi,thiri,ashan and still under developing youngsters like Udara Jayasundara and Shehan Jayasuriya.

  • kahvas on November 11, 2013, 18:44 GMT

    @CricIndia208, who doesnt like to watch these handsome 100lbs SL hunks hitting the ball within 30 yard circle. But again, who are we to comment, BCCI has a remote than turns pitches all around the world including England and WI flat as soon as Kohli comes to bat. I agree these young SL lions are awesome bwahhahahah

  • CricIndia208 on November 11, 2013, 18:13 GMT

    Sri Lanka hardly get a game and whatever scheduled is washed off. Does anyone watch Sri Lanka play?

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