By Srian Obeyesekere
Their world cup hopes gone asunder, a battered Sri Lanka however, go into their final game of the extravaganza against New Zealand in a yet must win now or never urgency of qualifying for the 2025 ICC Champions Trophy today at the Chinnaswamy Cricket Stadium in Bangalore at 2 p.m. where forecast rain could well pin the contest heavy top to spin. By and large it is a knocking on the rocks challenge the Kusal Mendis Lankan outfit faces against a New Zealand side that started on the grand to leading the points table, but has rock bottomed in a row of defeats, but does possess the wherewithal of bouncing back in a as desperate final thrust to making the semi-finals against a shaky opposition.
Indeed, a face off in such a compelling hype to coming good in two different quests to the two sides in a thus igniting now or never battle that does drum up this contest to a type of shoot out to the winners. That it borders on a landscape of nothing short of the herculean to the Lankans in a virtual on the line bout of retaining their ODI status of once world cup glory fame in confronting an all-round New Zealand side that has withered from the galvanising overcome by stronger opposition on the way to standing on the edge to making the last four.
The need of the hour for Mendis and his charges is of striving to shed the half-heartedness to discovering that all-round cohesion in all three departments of the game of one supportive of the other in the batting and the bowling while a flagging fielding area needs to be spot on in a fast-moving format that leaves no room for spilled catches that has proved to be one of the downfall factors. The immediate Lankan hurdle lies right upfront in the batting where an inform Pathum Nissanka has not found the backing from either Kusal Janith Perera or Dimuth Karunaratne tried out in between in that failed setback. That apart, the failure of the top order to click as one has had a drastic effect to coming good where pointed dependence on one or two has proved costly. Therein, the top order will have to come out of that negating factor of clicking in one match and not so in a spate. This setback of lack of consistency is an area the head coach Chris Silverwood and Consultant Coach Mahela Jayawardene would need to pep up the batting mechanism to muscle up.
Similarly, a depleted bowing attack needs to find the potency of getting on top of a well-oiled New Zealand batting side boasting of the likes of the experienced Kane Williamson, the man in form Rachin Ravindra and Daryl Mitchell. Certainly, the attack needs that supportive fusion to the lion hearted young Dilshan Madushanka who has braved all the setbacks to coming tops to hogging the No.1 spot in the tournament bowling table with 21 wickets in going past Australian leggy Adam Zampa, second with 20 wickets. Indeed, it has been a praiseworthy one man show by the left-armer on fantastic inswing bowling that has put him in the forefront of the rest in the field despite all the odds.