- Angelo Mathews needs to be promoted up the order
By Srian Obeyesekere
Sri Lanka, with 4 points from six outings, meet unbeaten India today at the batting friendly Wankhede, 12 years since they last met at the 2011 World Cup final with an outside mountainous semi-final chance as Pakistan and Netherlands of still finishing on 10 points on the mathematical possibility that two teams finish on 12 or more points, and as many as seven teams end up on eight, fighting for two spots. But to do so will border on the herculean having to go past against India and New Zealand of their remaining three games.
But to achieve the impossible the Lankan camp will need to shed a flagging image and get a wayward thinking cap placed right where for one the captain and team management’s think tank has as much faltered in not promoting the seasoned veteran Angelo Mathews, recalled from hibernation up the order from a hopeless No.7 that wouldn’t do their cause any good. For the record, Mathews has a sound record against India and the captain and the team strategists would do well to think clearly in pushing the veteran former captain up the order to boost a wanting top order that has performed in fits and starts during the tournament.
It is in a multi-challenging backdrop that Sri Lanka inches on a near impossible task in the face of Afghanistan in with the best chance of making it from the outside with six points from as many games in the wake of their win over the Lankans and if they win all three of their remaining matches they will finish on 12 though two of their games will be against Australia and South Africa with Friday’s one against Netherlands looks in their pocket. They do stand a good chance of making the last four in a scenario that only four other teams can get to 12 or more points.
In an injury plagued outfit that has cost them key players, the onus will be very much on stand in skipper Kusal Mendis to deliver in a grueling fronting of having to shoulder the big mantle and a top order that has failed to click as one with only Pathum Nissanka and Sadeera Samarawickrama among the runs, but the later too having his bad days an undermining factor. Overly, Sri Lanka’s hopes lie very much on Mendis’ fast scoring ability which though has been negated since he took over the captaincy from injury sidelined Dasun Shanaka Kusal Mendis took over the reins but it seems to have affected his batting. In the first two games, when Shanaka was the captain, Mendis aggregated 198 runs at a strike rate of 166.38, but has managed just 70 in four innings at a strike rate of 76.08 since taking over the captaincy. The form drop od all-rounder Dhananjaya de Silva leaves room for young utility player Dunith Wellalage with an advantage of turning the ball with an chance of replacing him.
India’s big show run in an overly firepower all-round insulation on a trump card Virat Kohli menace the Lankans will confront with the superstar just one short of equaling Sachin Tendulkar’s record of most ODI hundreds.
He is also on the threshold of shattering Tendulkar’s 1000 in a calendar year needing just 34 to do so with both tied on seven for most occasions.
India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Shubman Gill, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Shreyas Iyer, 5 KL Rahul (wk), 6 Suryakumar Yadav, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Kuldeep Yadav, 9 Mohammed Shami, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj
Sri Lanka could consider bringing in Dinuth Wellalage for Dhananjaya de Silva.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Pathum Nissanka, 2 Dimuth Karunaratne, 3 Kusal Mendis (capt, wk), 4 Sadeera Samarawickrama, 5 Charith Asalanka, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Dinuth Wellalage/Dhananjaya de Silva, 8 Kasun Rajitha, 9 Maheesh Theekshana, 10 Dilshan Madushanka, 11 Dushmantha Chameera.