Sri Lanka v South Africa, 2nd ODI, Colombo July 22, 2013

Chandimal focuses on adaptability

With Sri Lanka's seniors still going strong, Dinesh Chandimal will have to get used to batting lower down for some time. He wants the youngsters, including himself, to start contributing more if a crisis hits

Dinesh Chandimal's year could hardly have begun much better. Having sat the last half of 2012 on the sidelines, he was added to the New Year Test side after Kumar Sangakkara fractured a finger, and impressed with both bat and the gloves, hitting 62 not out alongside the tail in the second innings.

Two months later, he made his maiden Test century on a batting paradise in Galle, but followed that with a much more valuable hundred in Colombo, against Bangladesh. In between, he had become his nation's youngest ever captain in any format, when he was handed the Twenty20 reins, and he celebrated by leading his side to a first-up win.

The last few months, though, haven't quite gone according to plan. In April, he opted to turn down soft offers from the IPL, in order to work intensively with Sri Lanka's batting coach on technical flaws that hindered his limited-overs game, as well as to learn some English. He has emerged with a slew of phrases that every sportsman finds useful in his career, but the rewards of learning are less evident in his ODI batting. In seven innings since the start of June, Chandimal has made 86 runs, at 14.33.

His development in limited-overs cricket has to some extent hampered by the presence of Sri Lanka's three top-order juggernauts. Chandimal has excelled in Tests, where he has had the time to construct innings, but his batting yet lacks the power to make good use of the finishing spots he has been saddled with in ODIs. With Sri Lanka's senior batsmen reluctant to retire before the 2015 World Cup, Chandimal has figured he must adapt to batting lower down, as he may remain there for some time yet.

"I need to know how to bat from No.1 to No.11. I think that's what the best cricketers do," Chandimal said. "When you have such good players in your top order, you have to fit where the team needs. In my last two tours there have been some small weaknesses in my batting and I have had to bat in different places in different matches, but I can't be disheartened by that."

Chandimal also called on the other young batsmen in his side to begin contributing, after the senior batsmen had carried the side through tournaments in the UK and West Indies, without a great deal of support from the middle order. Sri Lanka's 180-run victory in the first ODI was similarly propelled by Kumar Sangakkara's 169, which constituted more than half of the team's total.

"We can't always rely on our experienced players to score runs. As youngsters we are expecting that on the days when they can't score, we will stand up and perform," Chandimal said. "We have a lot of good young players - Upul Tharanga, Lahiru Thirimanne, myself. I think we have a lot more experience now than we did when we first started playing.

"We've been given a big opportunity, as I've been given the captaincy and Lahiru is the vice-captain. As young players we need to know how to take hold of that opportunity with both hands."

Tharanga's presence at the top of the order has helped settle the opening combination, after Kusal Perera could not find form in the Champions Trophy last month. Tharanga has 13 ODI centuries, including a career-best 174 since returning to the side last month, but he has in the past been wildly inconsistent. With so much youth in the middle order, however, Chandimal feels Tharanga's 168 matches worth of experience, provides a better overall balance.

"He has done really well since coming back into the team in the last tour. We saw how well he used his experience in the last few games. If you look at his statistics there's no doubt he's a talented cricketer. That opening combination is good. Because of the two new balls, you need that experience."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Lalith on July 24, 2013, 9:02 GMT

    @Sageleaf: Chandimal did walk the talk. MOM

  • Anand on July 23, 2013, 16:01 GMT

    Its funny listening to Chandimal and Angelo. They talk big and deliver close to nothing. Wonder how it is in the dressing room, Chandimal / Angleo trying to win over confidence from Sanga/Mahela. SLK have serious leadership issues to deal with as neither Chndimal/Angelo actually warrant a place in the side base on their performance. Their luck being nobody pushing them....

  • Jayantha on July 23, 2013, 15:01 GMT

    There is a vast gap between Sanga?Mahela/Dilly and the rest. It is not one of talent, rather one of temperament. None of the younger players have the patience or application to play cricket.

    One way to train better batsmen is to play more Test cricket, which will reward patience and the other virtues of the long game. That Sri Lanka could not try to get two tests salvaged even after the SLPL was cancelled this year is sad. Test cricket is important to young players and without it I cannot see how they will be in the middle facing the best bowlers with no excuses.

    As it stands if any of the Big Three hit a century the younger batsman usually do not get their chance to build an innings. When they do get to play it is when things are really dire and when there is intense pressure, which is not good when you are young and developing.

    Sri Lankan cricket is close to a total failure once the Big Three retire. The sooner the priorities are changed the better it is. More tests and NOW.

  • Deleepa on July 23, 2013, 9:10 GMT

    Is this guy going to take 150 ODI's to find his game? It'll be too late!! We Sri Lankans love to give extended runs to players and will call them youngsters until they're 35 +

  • Lalith on July 23, 2013, 9:07 GMT

    I think we need to see a close game so please drop Mahela, Sanga, Tharanda. Dilshan Malinga and Herath. Then we can see a good fight. It will give an opportunity for Young players to perform.

  • Lalith on July 23, 2013, 9:01 GMT

    There are a lot of vacancies for batters in both SA and Aussie teams.

  • Tharindu on July 23, 2013, 5:55 GMT

    sanga must bat at n.04 or 05 (sanga have the ability to bat at any position) and give chandimal no.03.he is the best man who can handle that position after give him a chance.chandimal has 50+ average and s/r 80+ in no.03.It is better than thirimanne's stats at no.03 .sl can get the full use of chandimal by let him to bat at no.03.sanga,help to build sl future. My team with batting order. 1.Tharanga 2.Dilshan 3.Chandimal(c) 4.Mahela/sanga 5.Sanga/mahela 6.Thirimanne 7.Mubarak/angelo perera 8.Thisara 9.Malinga 10.hearath 11.eranga

  • Tharindu on July 23, 2013, 4:42 GMT

    Scored By Sanga, wickets taken by Malinga and Herath, Field set by Mahela. What did Chandi do?

  • Suranga on July 22, 2013, 21:20 GMT

    No point of making comments to media and keep the place in the team thanks to Dili,Mahela,Sanga... All others need to step up the order and get some batting practice. WE all know if those three failed, others wont even bat full 50 overs. In the other hand, Sanga, Mahela need to go down the order n give these guys to perform.

  • Dummy4 on July 22, 2013, 18:31 GMT

    These guys need to be developed . if not when the big three retires and they will all do in one go it will be an unmitigated disaster .

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