Review of the squad selected for T20s: Is dropping Mathews the right decision?

After an unpleasant second test against New Zealand, Sri Lankan team is now getting ready to play three-match T20 series against the tough black caps. T20 is an entirely different format from tests, and both sides are playing with some fresh players. This series is also crucial for both teams as this could be the steppingstone for building a good line-up for world T20 next year.

Today, we at Cricketry Sri Lanka thought of looking at the squad announced for the 3 match series and share our thoughts.

Final Squad

Lasith Malinga (capt), Niroshan Dickwella (vice-capt, wk), Avishka Fernando, Kusal Perera, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Shehan Jayasuriya, Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Akila Dananjaya, Lakshan Sandakan, Isuru Udana, Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Kumara, Lahiru Madushanka

The first significant change we could see is the omission of Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera. Many people will agree on the decision to drop Thisara Perera as he was failing to have consistent performance for quite some time now. Do not get us wrong; he has played few match-winning knocks here and there. But how long are we to wait for him to reach the potential he showed his early days?? After all, Sri Lanka has few fast bowling allrounders performing really well in the domestic circuits as well as the emerging teams.

But why drop Mathews?

This is a tough decision. For this, we can both agree and disagree at the same time. We must all realise; Angelo is not the hard-hitting genuine all-rounder of the early days. Recently, he has rediscovered his batting prowess and now can be seen as our best batsman. Unfortunately, this newfound batting ability comes with a bit of a catch. He takes some time to get going. His strike rate is painfully low at the beginning of an innings. But if he manages to play out 3~4 overs, then he let loose, till then he seem to struggle to find his timing. This could be perfectly fine in the ODIs where he may have plenty of overs. But this is a major drawback in T20s, especially since he is coming to bat at number 5 where he may have only 5 or 6 overs to bat.

<<Is it time we look beyond Thisara Perera?>>

The other issue is his fielding. He is also not the brilliant fielder he used to be. Mathews was one of our best fielders during his younger years. But we all know how fragile his body is these days. There are few Concerns about his running between the wickets as well. Since we already have Malinga, who is also not a good fielder, can we afford to have two such players in the fastest format of the game?

On the other hand, T20 is not all about pinch-hitting. There need to be players who can build an innings if the top order fails. There needs to be someone who can play with the tail. When you look at the current squad it does not have any such players. This may be a massive loss for us if we lose few quick wickets.

Other Selections

Dhananjaya De Silva is also left out of the squad. But the selectors have stated that he is not dropped from the team but rather rested. This is a wise decision, especially considering Dhananjaya’s workload during the past few months. This would also give an excellent opportunity for selectors to take a look at Shehan Jayasuriya and Wanindu Hasaranga, who are both fighting for that all-important spin bowling batting allrounders’ spot.

The selection of bowlers such as Lahiru Kumara and Kasun Rajitha is also justified considering that all 3 matches is to be played at Pallekalle, traditionally a seam friendly venue. We would have liked to see Vikum Sanjaya getting another chance. But his recent form in the domestic circuit is nothing to be proud of.

Dasun Shanaka and Lahiru Madushanka are also picked to the squad. It is exciting to see how the final line up would look like considering both of them are a similar type of player. Dasun Shanka is more of a batting allrounder whereas Lahiru Madushanka is equally good with both bat and ball.

Young Avishka Fernando and Danushka Gunathilaka are among the top-order options in the squad.

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