‘In world cricket, we’re one of the best bowling outfits’ – SL bowling holds key for Hasaranga in World Cup year

Sri Lanka

There might be a little over three months left for June’s Men’s T20 World Cup, but for Afghanistan and Sri Lanka that leaves just six competitive fixtures each before the start of the tournament – three of which will take place over the next week, starting on Saturday with the first T20I in Dambulla.

This means that any flaws that crop up or game-plan tweaks that need doing take on added significance – essentially, this is the time to perfect your game, there’s not much time left for much else. And for Sri Lanka, team composition will likely take precedence.

In the just-concluded ODIs a line-up featuring four frontline bowlers, six batters and Wanindu Hasaranga as a sole allrounder proved to be a winning combination. In T20s though, Sri Lanka have tended to favour more allrounders, with the likes of Angelo Mathews, Dasun Shanaka and Dhananjaya de Silva capable with both bat and ball. With World Cup surfaces in the Caribbean and the USA likely to vary from batting friendly to sometimes slow and low, similar to subcontinental wickets, sides need to be prepared for any eventuality, something captain Hasaranga is cognisant off.

“We saw in the ODIs that going in with just one allrounder worked. When we play on good wickets we can play like that. The batters have confidence when they know the wicket is good. In T20s also I would very much like to play like that,” he said on the eve of the first T20I. “Because I bowl four overs [along with his batting], there is also a line of thinking as to whether we need another bowling option or not.

“So the plan largely depends on the type of wickets we’re playing on as well; the plan has to suit that. We need to be thinking about the World Cup coming up when playing these games.”

Sri Lanka’s last two T20 World Cup outings have been underwhelming, plagued with injuries and general underperformance. While they won a T20 Asia Cup in between, inconsistency in the format has been a recurring theme. When everyone is fit though, Hasaranga is confident that Sri Lanka’s bowling attack in particular measures up with the best in the world.

“If you look at world cricket, we’re one of the best teams in terms of bowling outfits. If you look at the rankings, myself and Maheesh [Theekshana] are in the top 10. Dushmantha Chameera was unlucky with his injury, otherwise he’d also be here. But in his place we have Binura [Fernando] who has come in, and there’s also Matheesha [Pathirana] and Nuwan Thushara. We know how good those two are. Dilshan Madushanka is also there.

“In terms of bowlers we have quite a few options, so when we come to playing on good tracks – especially T20s – we need to see exactly how to bowl. We’ve bowled on good wickets before, so I think in T20s it’s from the bowlers that you’re going to win matches.

“The types of wickets we’re going to play on at the World Cup, there’s a good chance we’ll play on similar wickets during these next six games. With that we’ll be aiming to figure out how we can win a game with our combination of bowlers.”

As for Afghanistan, the upcoming World Cup is a chance to build on their growing reputation. Previous appearances have seen them notch up big scalps, while in last years ODI World Cup they registered wins against three former world champions on their way to securing qualification for the 2025 Champions Trophy by virtue of finishing in the top eight.

With arguably their best format, T20s, now in focus, they’re targeting their best performance yet in a major tournament.

“I think lots of people before the World Cup [last year], they didn’t consider Afghanistan a strong side. But what we did, it was a good answer to anyone, especially those people that thought Afghanistan was only a T20 side,” said Afghanistan assistant coach Raees Ahmed. “But as a Full Member we’re working a lot, our players are working hard. The way we performed in the World Cup, we want to continue.

“Most of our players are playing in different franchises around the world – we have eight or nine players playing the IPL – so this will help the team. I don’t think Afghanistan will be an easy side to face, I think we could be in the top four or five. Every team will think twice before playing Afghanistan in the World Cup.”

An area that they will need to improve quickly though is in their fielding. Across the recent ODI series, Afghanistan were guilty of dropping a spate of catches – many of which in hindsight might have been game-defining.

“This is the area that we should work harder in, if you want to beat the stronger sides. It will help the team and give it some nice momentum when you have a strong fielding side. Yes, this is the area that we should be working on a lot. Honestly, we’re far behind as a fielding side. But we have time, we will work on it, and we will cover that weakness.”

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

Hobart Hurricanes get first pick in WBBL overseas draft
Sydney Thunder confident of Warner BBL return
Cameron White returns to Melbourne Renegades as new head coach
Ravindra among three changes as New Zealand opt to bowl
Five-star Hosein helps West Indies blow Uganda away

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *