On the back of a T20 World Cup win, Australia are looking hot in the T20 scene.
Sri Lanka’s attempt to resurrect its dying image as a force in international cricket hit a vital stumbling block when they squandered a chance to topple South Africa in the T20 World Cup in Sharjah.
But all is not lost as a mostly inexperienced outfit showed grit in a last over disaster to warn the rest of the world that they are well on the way back to being respected and feared as they were during the reign of Arjuna Ranatunge, Sanath Jayasuriya, Aravinda De Silva, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Tillekeratne Dilshan and a few others who had them riding the crest of a wave during their time with the Island nation.
Sliding down to the embarrassing depths of having to qualify for the Super 12’s, the Lankans romped to four consecutive wins before being exposed to and beaten by top-ranked teams, Australia and South Africa. But they were not really humiliated in these games indicating that they are on the rise but need more maturity in their decision making.
Drawn in the toughest group which also include favourites England, West Indies and Bangladesh, Sri Lanka has just one win and are teetering on the brink of being bundled out of the semi-final stage unless they can win their last two encounters and hope the other results fall the way with their aspirations of making an unlikely entry and hope for a miracle second win of the World Cup they captured in 2014.
Seven years now seems a long time between drinks and an almost forgotten memory for the talented Lankans who have endured a series of controversies related to administrative and coaching issues in a disarrayed structure riddled by mostly self-serving individuals who were responsible for destroying the direction of the playing group and adding to their sagging morale on the field.
Recent indications appear to indicate that the infusion of some of the best cricketing brains from their past under the direction of enthusiastic young Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa has steadied the ship and its course which indeed augurs well for the sport in which they have worldwide recognition.
The other vital aspect of the Lankan turnaround has been the weeding out of players with self interest rather than team success which has been evident over the past few years.
Anyone involved in team sport know the importance of putting team ahead of personal glory and this has been a missing vital ingredient in Sri Lanka teams in the recent past.
Although Sri Lankan fans appear disgruntled over their performances in the World Cup so far, they really should look at the bigger picture to see the deliberate improvement that has been a feature of a young team under a young and inexperienced skipper in Dasun Shanaka, unraveking a rich crop of players ready to fill in the roles of their departed superstars.
In Charith Asalanka, Pathum Nissanka, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Avishka Fernando and Wanindu Hasaranga De Silva lies the neucleus of the unravelling future of Sri Lanka cricket backed by the bowling of Dushmantha Chameera, Lahiru Kumara, mystery spinner Maheesh Theekshana and the tricky Wanindu Hasaranga which at this stage poses to be a formidable outfit that could bring back the glory days.