Alex Pyecroft has had a great start to his Sheffield Shield career. Yet, this wasn’t his finest moment.
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Considered the easybeats of world cricket, Sri Lanka have found new direction and timely confidence in Bangladesh, under new coach Chandika Hathurusingha.
Recent drubbings by the Indians in all formats of the game and then early setbacks to Zimbabwe and hosts Bangladesh in a tri-series suggested things were bleak for the future of Lankan cricket.
But Hathurusingha has turned things around, as his new-look team showed defiance and aggression to bounce back and beat Zimbabwe in their second meeting, before thrashing the home side consecutively to take the one-day series.
Things continued in a similar vein in the Tests. The desperate Bangladeshis tried their utmost to bamboozle the visitors by providing contrasting wickets in the two-Test series, but it backfired badly as the Lankans beat them at their own game to win 1-0.
Getting a home-grown coach and having his role on a condition of non-interference from those with personal interest is already paying dividends. However, his real challenges are yet to come.
Hathurusingha will prove his worth when his side face the superpowers of the game such as India, Australia, England and South Africa.
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Sri Lanka’s new-found confidence with the same group of players shows there is no lack of talent in the island nation, but there was clearly a lack of guidance.
The bowling, which was of real concern, has been sorted out, with veterans Suranga Lakmal and Rangana Herath being ably supported by emerging stars Dhananjaya De Silva and Dilruwan Perera.
But what has been most heartening is the increasing consistency of their batsmen, who hammered the Bangladesh attack for 713 in reply to the hosts’ 513.
Kusal Mendis found timely form and Dhanjaya De Silva supported him with big centuries. From a dead track in Mipur, the Bangladeshi curators then produced a vicious turner in Dhaka, which saw their spinners restrict Sri Lanka to two 200-plus totals, but the more seasoned Lankan spinners then ran riot to skittle the hosts for just over 100 twice.
Recurring injuries to former skipper Angelo Matthews, who is still a gun in all formats, is an issue, as is the continuing inconsistency of current skipper Dinesh Chandimal and Thisara Perera. Hopefully, Hathurusingha’s clever mentoring will sort out their issues.