Lions vs Kiwis: In Retrospect

Sri Lanka vs New Zealand T20I series was a thrilling one to say the least. We were exposed to some high-quality cricketing action within a short time span of a week. It had elegance, brute force, craft, and some magic too.

The Black Caps had won, but it was a closely contested series. The first two matches went to the final over. The final match was a different story in its own right!

Mastery, Magic, MALINGA

While the Kiwis savoured an away tournament win, their joy of a whitewash has been stolen brutally right in front of their eyes in the last match. It was him again – the one and only MALINGA!

The constant fall of wickets in the 3rd match only allowed the Lions to set a quite moderate target of 126. From everything we have witnessed, it was a more than a walk in the park for the formidable New Zealand side.

But, Malinga had other ideas. He had decided not to waste much time. Just four simple yorkers. Four wickets – Munro, Rutherford, Gradhomme, and Taylor – all sent back to the pavilion mercilessly. No big deal though. One can even see Taylor ushering a smile as he walked up the stairs. They all knew what was coming yet was unable to keep those out. Another WWWW for the best T20 bowler you have witnessed ever.

To us, this moment stole at least half of the joy of a tournament win out of the Kiwis. With this astonishing performance, SLINGA became the only bowler with FIVE international hattricks, and only with a 4 in 4 in T20Is.

Malinga the T20I Captain

True, Malinga is the best T20 bowler ever. But, is he captain material? Many critiques had questioned his leadership in this series. For example, many believed that he got the calculations wrong in the 2nd match when Isuru Udana, despite being very economical on the day, had to end up with only 3 overs bowled. His field placements were also criticised. We also felt that in the final game, he could have bowled his 4 overs straight when those Kiwi legs were trembling with fear.

Is Lasith Malinga the captain Sri Lanka need?
Is Lasith Malinga the captain Sri Lanka need?
Image Credits:

On the other hand, however, during the interviews he mentioned that he wanted to provide more opportunities for the youngsters. Especially in the second match, during the toss he told that the choice to bat first was mainly because he wanted for the youngsters to bat stress-free. His decision not to bowl himself out in the last match, was described as yet another selfless act.

Maybe after all what Sri Lanka need right now is a selfless captain who is looking to nurture youngsters, not someone who wants only to win and prove himself to the others. Let us hope it will work for the best.

Sandakan’s Moonwalk

He is full of talent and promise. But the question to be asked is “If he is ready?” Our answer would be “May be not yet.” We’ve seen him trying to get his doosra and googly accurate, but failing. He ends up bowling too many looseners. Tim Southee punished him with three sixes in one over, and everyone began to feel a dreaded possible ‘Stokes’ moment in the match.

Modern day batsmen are quite severe on such mistakes. In a T20 match, a bowler does not get much time to adjust his lines and lengths. You need to be pinpoint-accurate from the word GO. We at feel that Sandakan is not there yet. While his chinaman action is a rarity, it would be better to give him more chances in the local arena to get his accuracy on target.

Sandakan’s Moonwalk
Sandakan’s Moonwalk
Image Credits: Cricket World

Got to Take ‘em Guys!

No matter how many times we say this phrase, its validity will not fade – “Catches Win Matches” We’ve seen Sri Lankan outfielders dropped many catches at crucial times in the first two matches.

When you are playing against a very strong and unforgiving batting line-up like the Black Caps, you simply cannot allow such errors. It was strange to notice while usually a very safe fielder in the outfield, Dasun Shanaka was also making some blunders. Is it because they are not familiar with the night light?

Where’s Next?

Well, it is not someplace Sri Lankan Cricket has fond memories of! Pakistan. Sri Lanka is scheduled to play 3 ODIs and 3 T20Is in Pakistan starting 27th September.

A group of terrorists managed to kill two civilians and six security personnel, and injure six Sri Lankan players in Lahore in 2009. Even after a decade, the shock waves are still strong. Understandably, many Sri Lankan players have opted out of the series including key figures like the ODI and Test skipper Dimuth, T20I skipper Malinga and Mathews. The others who will not participate Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Perera, Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera, Akila Dhananjaya, Suranga Lakmal and Dinesh Chandimal.

Without some of the regular members of the side, Sri Lanka will have to re-think their selections. While this would be a good opportunity for the youngsters, the question is “If it is STILL a good idea to tour Pakistan?”

What do YOU think?

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