Chairman of Selectors Aravinda de Silva made news by saying that Sanath Jayasuriya and Chaminda Vaas would be in contention for the forthcoming World Cup. This is in addition to renewing the contract of Murali for a further year. So, the nod has been given to Murali quite clearly that Sri Lanka Cricket has plans for him in the ensuing year.
We have seen plenty of cricket between India and Sri Lanka in the recent past. I hope that this series will not be boring from a spectator point of view by having only two and a half innings completed in a five day Test game. I would venture to say that Sri Lanka will go in with an advantage. They have a balanced side and India will miss Zaheer Khan. Not only will he be missed with the new ball but with the reverse swing when it is old. He would have been the obvious foil for Harbajhan from the other end. The Indian spinners will be surely put to test by the Sri Lankan batsmen, as shown in the warm ups.
Ajantha Mendis’ exclusion does not make sense to me. Recall that the Chairman of Selectors said that Ajantha was being held back for tactical reasons? Going by that score it would be logical to surmise that our first choices are Murali and Rangana Herath, at least for the present. I believe Ajantha’s chances will come when the Tri-nation tourney comes along. He has a big reputation and has to deliver each time, like he did at the practice game. Lasith Malinga is bowling well and he will be the bowler to watch. I notice that Zaheer is not being pushed by the Indians at this stage and is probably being nursed through to the World Cup and by the same score Malinga too should be taken care of and not given a heavy load.
Talking of our batting, it’s upto Dilshan and Tharanga to get some good scores under their belts. It was good to see youngsters like Thirimanne and Chandimal make big runs. The Sri Lankans have named seven batsmen including Prasanna Jayawardene. So the cupboard is quite full there. In the bowling it would be Malinga, Rangana Herath, Murali and Dhammika Prasad who had a good series when the Indians were here before. Suraj Randiv’s inclusion over Ajantha Mendis is an indication that he would be the replacement for Murali when the time presents.
The Indian batting is one of the most experienced around. Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman, Gambhir, Shewag and Yuvraj…formidable. In that context the preparation of flat tracks would mean only two and a half innings being completed. It is best to prepare good cricket strips with an equal opportunity to both principle departments. Past records do show that Galle has delivered results more often than not and coming from there with a result would make SSC and the Oval games more interesting. The Indians will be tested on a seaming SSC wicket vis-a-vis our lads who are more capable and have the qualities to handle such. Now with Zaheer absent this would give an advantage to the Sri Lankans.
I am surprised that Sri Lanka Cricket has renewed Murali’s main contract despite him saying he would play elsewhere though if the Board wishes he would be available. I believe that Sri Lanka Cricket should tell him what they wish of him in the future as he could even injure himself by playing elsewhere. I do trust that this will happen soon if it has not already been conveyed.
Of course Vaas and Sanath should be in good nick too and the only way to achieve this is to play in our domestic Provincial Tournament. Playing county cricket and performing well is not the barometer it was of yore. This was good so many moons ago but now it has to be our domestic tourney where the form would be tested. Remember that the World Cup would be held in the sub continent?