Pakistan in Sri Lanka 2012 May 27, 2012

Pakistan's spinners pose threat - De Mel


Sri Lanka's chairman of selectors Ashantha de Mel has said the Sri Lanka batsmen should to be wary of the two Pakistan spinners, Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman, during the upcoming Twenty20, ODI and Test series.

"It is the Pakistani spinners we need to be careful of. Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman are of a different class compared to our spinners. Only Rangana Herath comes anywhere close to them," De Mel said.

Offspinner Ajmal and left-arm spinner Rehman have been at the forefront of Pakistan's recent successes. The pair took 43 wickets in Pakistan's 3-0 win over No. 1 ranked England in their last Test series played in the UAE early this year. Ajmal was also the leading wicket-taker with 18 wickets during Sri Lanka's three-Test series against Pakistan in the UAE last year.

"The advantage the Pakistan team has is that it also has batsmen who can be useful bowlers, for instance opener Mohammad Hafeez, who can bowl offbreaks," he said. "This adds a lot of variety to their attack and balances their team nicely.

"Their fast bowlers are quite effective with the reverse swing. That's another area our batsmen have got to be wary of. Pakistan have mastered the art of reverse swing from the era of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. Umar Gul and left-arm fast bowler Junaid Khan are very good at using the old ball."

A former fast bowler himself, De Mel said Sri Lanka's fast bowlers need to develop their skills to master reverse swing, an art that needs a lot of practice to be perfected.

Recollecting Sri Lanka's last Test series against England at home which ended in a 1-1 draw, De Mel said the batsmen needed to put up 400-plus totals in the first innings if Sri Lanka are to have any chance of winning. Sri Lanka's highest total in that series was 318 in the Galle Test and they failed to go past the 300-run mark in the Colombo Test.

"At least three of the top five batsmen need to get a big score if we are to come up with competitive totals. Off the middle-order, two of the three most experienced batsmen must score runs," De Mel said, referring to the trio of Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera who have a combined tally of 25,001 runs and 73 hundreds in Tests.

De Mel admitted the middle order had been put under pressure due to the poor starts provided by the openers. Sri Lanka tried Tharanga Paranavitana and Lahiru Thirimanne as opening partners with Tillakaratne Dilshan in the series against South Africa and England, but none of them were able to settle into the role.

"I don't think Thirimanne is an opener. He is good in the middle order. We persisted with him because the previous selection committee had picked him as an opener and we wanted to give Thirimanne a fair chance to prove himself. We are thinking of bringing back Paranavitana to open with Dilshan."

Thirimanne, who has been named in Sri Lanka's Twenty20 and ODI squads, bats in the middle order in the shorter versions, but is unlikely to be named in the Test squad. In seven Tests in which he has opened the batting, he has only gone past 50 once.

When questioned why former Test opener Upul Tharanga is not being considered for the position, De Mel said, "Upul's technique against the new ball is suspect. He is playing well away from his body and that is why we have decided to bring him down the order in the ODIs and play him in the middle where he has contributed.

"There's, at present, a paucity of quality opening batsmen in the country. We are looking at Dimuth Karunaratne as an opener for the Sri Lanka A tour to South Africa and also wicketkeeper Kushal Janith Perera, who bats at No. 3, as an opener in the limited-overs version."

The Sri Lanka A team is due to tour South Africa and Zimbabwe next month.

Another youngster Dinesh Chandimal is likely to be named in the Test squad but will find it difficult to make it into a line-up that comprises Dilshan, Paranavitana, Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Samaraweera, Angelo Mathews and Prasanna Jayawardene. De Mel added Mathews would be picked purely as a batsman and may bowl occasionally.

"Our bowlers are not penetrative enough. To win a Test you need to take 20 wickets. What I have observed about our quick bowlers is that they come at you initially around 135 [kph] but are about ten kilometers (per hour) slower when they return for their second spell. The four to five bowlers in the line-up should all contribute to take wickets."

Predicting a close contest during the Test series, De Mel said the pitches used would play a key role. "The side that performs on the day will hold the advantage. I hope we get some decent wickets with some bounce. We make slow and low wickets and end up losing. The P Sara Oval wicket (where Sri Lanka lost to England) was slow and low and lacked bounce."

Sri Lanka and Pakistan play two Twenty20 matches before the ODIs and Tests. De Mel said the selectors had picked the 14-member squad for the two Twenty20s in Hambantota with an eye on the forthcoming World Twenty20 (which will be hosted by Sri Lanka in September).

"We have picked Isuru Udana who is a specialist Twenty20 bowler and legspinning all-rounder Kaushal Lokuarachchi whom we think can be useful in the shorter version."

De Mel said that apart from spinner Ajantha Mendis, who is still recuperating from a back injury and was not considered for selection, Farvez Maharoof and Suranga Lakmal were left out because Nuwan Pradeep and Dilhara Fernando were declared fit.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Indian on May 29, 2012, 18:47 GMT


  • Yasantha on May 29, 2012, 13:29 GMT

    Paranivitana was eliminated because he failed continuously.So what is the meaning of bringing him back.We can find better players in the country.Giving Kapugedera or Silva a chance wont be bad in tests.Kapugedera has done well in tests averaging nearly 35.

  • adithya on May 29, 2012, 12:01 GMT

    @siri1234,i don't know how many time pak have won asia cup but they are the current champion and sl lost to all pak,ind and bd in asia batsmen are flat track bullies.mahela scores only in sl and thilan is not a great player.he will definitely find ajmal difficult.and sl doesn't have bowling to defeat pak batting eventhough pak batting is weak compared to others but sl bowlers are pathetic to say the will win t20,odi and test only in

  • Mafas on May 29, 2012, 8:27 GMT

    I think what De Mel said has been taken out Chandimal from playing 11 in test cricket, It is bad decision & Eranga should play odi & Test , Can Selectors find these palayers in the playing 11 ?

  • sirsak on May 29, 2012, 5:46 GMT

    @sobersfan ,yes u r free to think anything but once the series will start then only u will know that ur thinkings were completely wrong.thilan cant handle ajmal lol.thilan is one of the best batsman of spin bowling.and in this series only one team will suffer from batting collapse and it is pakistan.i think sl will win both t 20 and odi with ease and win test with just a little bit of contest.@sobersfan u think pak plays better cricket in subcontinent than many asia cups have pak won

  • Sarath on May 28, 2012, 17:22 GMT

    Pakistan's bowling attack is always a threat because; unlike SL, the selectors (there) have always prepared to play the best. The age is not a barrier and they always pick players on the basis of consistency, more importantly they value the interest of the Country more than interests of individuals. If we had verify recent stats of matches played out side the Country there is nothing to talk about the 3 seniors though the local selectors try to ignore consistency shown by Samaraweera , Chandmal,Mathews & Thirmanne. We need more young batters of Samaraweera's class who've total control over their stroke play.Can we expect any consistency from batters that have always tried to survive with 101 false, edgy & lofted strokes? They may do well at times offering 3-4 straight forward chances on flat tracks but when they get caught on lively pitches their success is very often somewhere around 1 out of 10. The interested parties can verify these stats in this very website.

  • Dummy4 on May 28, 2012, 17:00 GMT

    Mahroof was treated as badly as possible. he did well in Austrailia series, that all three match was lost and then fourth match was won by srilanka. in that match Mahroof did well to contain austrailian batsmans. in that match he should have declared man of the match but surprisingly went to thisara perera. only failiure is that asia cup match against bangladesh. so after one match failiure he was dropped. But dilhara fernando continuos failiure not concern for the selecters.

  • Anupam on May 28, 2012, 16:03 GMT

    the team who declines soo fast is the SL.reasons no quality opener and fast bowlers malinga is selfish for playing in T2o competitions he took the retirement soo early in his career. warnapura, vandort, dilshan, jayawardhene, sanga, samarweera, matthews, bandara/eranga, herath, welegedara, mirando

  • Yasantha on May 28, 2012, 14:54 GMT

    Upul Tharanga and Lahiru Thirimanne are not suitable for the lower middle order.They are openers.Lower middle order batsmen should be able to provide big boundaries and finish the inning.These two are ideal to rebuild an inning.But we do not always need rebuilding.

  • Dummy4 on May 28, 2012, 12:34 GMT

    I think what De Mel has said has been taken out of context. I have a feeling that they do not want to expose Eranga before test series and he will be playing in tests if he is fit. About Upul Tharanga I agree with De Mel. Unfortunately most of the cricket fans who comment watch ODIs and probably IPL stuff. Test cricket is an entirely different ball game. Doing well in Premier League is very good but that level of cricket and international test cricket are poles apart. Further, most of the test cricketers reach their peak at mid thirties and there is no need to retire them then. They can continue to play test cricket as long as they remain on top. The youngsters have to fight their way into the test team. However, they should find a slot for Chandimal. Even if it means opening batting with him giving him the guarantee that if it back fires he will not go out of reckoning. That is how Sanath was brought in as a permanent member in test team at a time when there was no real vacancy.

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