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Match Analysis

Shambolic snapshots from a failed title defence

Sri Lanka's came into the World T20 as defending champions. They also came into the World T20 with a last-minute change of captain, a last-second change of selectors, and a startling shortage of recent success

In the 24 hours before Sri Lanka left for the World T20, the board sacked its five-man selection committee and installed a new one, which in turn made minor changes to the side. It was suggested at the time, that this was a little like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. That is probably unfair to the Titanic.
Sri Lanka had then lost seven of its last eight T20Is against Full Members - a 2-0 sweep by New Zealand in January, a 2-1 series loss to India in February and three losses in the Asia Cup - and was facing a crisis of confidence. Rather than shuffling deck chairs, the board was replacing the boat-builders just as the ship was tooting a forlorn farewell, and exiting the harbour with half the hull missing and bits of engine in its wake.
Lasith Malinga was dealing with an injury situation so delicate he could be ruled out of the tournament if someone so much as whispered too loudly at him. Angelo Mathews turned up in India in charge and suggested he shouldn't have ideally got the captaincy at such short notice, before later going on to state he shouldn't have ideally said that he shouldn't have got the captaincy at such short notice.
Of the two late additions to the squad, Suranga Lakmal is yet to play a match. The other, Lahiru Thirimanne, played his pretty shots but the most solid connection during his time in the middle was fans' palms hitting their foreheads. His scores this tournament: 6, 5 and 3.
To be fair to Thirimanne, though, he was run out by Mathews in this match, in a situation that would have suited his accumulative style of play. This is slightly ironic. Mathews had been among those who had pushed for Thirimanne to be shoehorned into the squad in the first place. This is not dissimilar to a doctor working all night to bring a patient out of a coma, then, at the very moment the patient comes to, whacking him in the face with a bedpan.
There are plenty of similarly shambolic snapshots from this title-defence campaign. Legspinner Jeffrey Vandersay was among the two young players who were kicked out of the squad to make way for Lakmal and Thirimanne, but then he replaced the injured Malinga midway and delivered Sri Lanka's spell of the tournament, against West Indies. His eventual arrival of course, means that SLC made five times as many changes to its selection panel, as it did to its actual team. Just mull that over for a minute. The press-conference introducing the new selectors lasted longer than Sri Lanka's average team innings, and featured no fewer than two politicians at the head table.
And then ahead of this game, it sounded like Sri Lanka's team management wanted to shake the side up and make a bold statement. But they ditched a frontline bowler, Nuwan Kulasekera, for a batting allrounder, Dasun Shanaka. So this statement turned out to be: "We have collectively lost function of our short-term memory."
Given how consistently Sri Lanka's use of an 8-3 team combination has backfired, maybe everyone should be sat down, shown the film Memento, then taking cues from the protagonist, had Thisara Perera's latest figures tattooed on their arms. Perera is clearly a talented batsman, but his bowling has been unreliable for some time now. Having had an economy rate in the double figures this year, he was still given the death-bowling job on Saturday. His first over - the 16th of the innings - cost 18 runs, at which point Mathews lost faith and switched him for Dasun Shanaka, who was hit for almost as many. The last five overs cost Sri Lanka 72 runs, and quite possibly lost them the game.
Later on, Mathews launched his characteristic late, heroic charge to raise hopes for Sri Lanka. He is so often an industrial pump, desperately bailing water out of the vessel, while his team-mates race around in a panic, bumping into stuff. He blasted five towering sixes, some on one leg as his right hamstring gave way and possibly ruled him out of their final group match against South Africa.
For the first time since the 2009 Champions Trophy, Sri Lanka have exited a world event before the knockout stage has begun. It is a team in transition, they say, but for now all this team have transitioned to is more transition. With Kusal Perera out of action following a positive drug test, there is still no permanent opening partner for Tillakaratne Dilshan. The top order continues to falter. The death bowling is uninspired, and the bowling resources are strangely utilised.
There are bright young talents in the next generation, and a potential great in Mathews himself, but despite all the fighting innings, and bowling sparks, Sri Lanka have still lost 10 of their last 11 matches against Full-Member sides. It's just as well that the unofficial motto of Sri Lanka's fans is "nava gilunath baan choon". Even if the ship sinks, they say, the party must go on.
It has been a rough few months for everyone, and in that time, this team has tested even the Sri Lankan capacity to party. It is important that you understand, that takes quite a lot of doing.

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