The high scoring opening ODI which Sri Lanka won in a thriller at the SSC last Saturday has lent the hype to the rest of the series with the contest moving to the picturesque Hambantota where the second ODI will take place on Wednesday at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium.
The game in Colombo proved to be a close contest with Sri Lanka having to draw on all their reserves to pull off a 1-wicket victory. It was packed with the drama befitting the fast paced instant cricket with the game going down to the wire. With the home team having taken a 1-nil lead, it will give skipper Dimuth Karunaratne and his charges the much looked to buoyancy of enjoying a distinct edge where the Sri Lankans will be in a position to go flat out on a positive note to further insulate their dominance in the series where the name of the game will be to make it 2-nil. Significantly, from a Sri Lankan perspective, that triumph marked with it a much sought after winning combination in a long time where importantly the player potential ran deep particularly in the batting. It was signified by the fact that Sri Lanka had in its ranks a match winning batsman at No.8 to do the job for the side when some of the top order failed.
Therein reflects depth in so much that Sri Lanka does now possess the batting rank and file from right up to stand and deliver and that in an exigency it has the fire power even low down to do so as the virtual 22-year old rookie Wanidu Hasaranga proved. Indeed, in a rank and file that consists of match winning destroyers of bowling attacks in young Avishka Fernando who set the tempo with an electrifying half century and the calm and composed skipper Karunaratne himself to that bludgeoner of the ball Kusal Janith Perera as much as Kusal Mendis who is being renurtured to top fettle, it is a reassuring stoic presence in the most experienced in the pack Angelo Mathews who needs only to curb an impetuousness to chase after wide deliveries while the middle order is well manned by Dhananjaya de Silva who has progressively brought a solidifying soundness to the batting down there while a reincarnated pinch hitter Thisara Perera as he proved to be on his recall in the opening game adds further depth right down followed by 22-year old Wanidu Hasaranga who displayed what a riotous match winning batter he is while both Isuru Udana and Lakshan Sandakan too are no slouch’s with the bat.
The bowling department does possess depth which will need to do apply themselves to quest for that combinative cohesion to bowl out the opposition. The West Indies demonstrated that their strength is in their batting and will also need to have the bowlers to come out of the erratic if they are to contain the Sri Lankans.
For the record, of the 57 ODIs played between Sri Lanka and the West Indies, they have won 28 as against Sri Lanka’s 27 with three no results since the first match in 1975 in the 1975 Prudential World Cup on June 7 which the West Indies won by 9 wickets at Old Trafford Manchester.
By Srian Obeyesekere
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-