Cricketers will be looking for a morale booster

by Elmo Rodrigopulle

7 July 1998

The Sri Lankan cricketers as expected entered the Singer Akai Nidahas Trophy final and will be looking to beat India today and boost their morale before leaving for England for the one off Test and the triangular in addition to the side games.

The rains took away much of the tournament as a contest but there was interesting and exciting cricket in the few games that were not spoilt by rain.

Sri Lanka did well to first beat India in a 36 - over game and then convincingly thrash the Kiwis in their final preliminary game. In the game against the Kiwis on Sunday the Lankans led from the front by Arjuna Ranatunga lynched the Kiwis.

In this game Sri Lanka's top order batting fired with Kaluwitharne and Aravinda de Silva bashing half tons while Ranatunga played one of his finest knocks to race to a more than a run a ball century.

With this knock he showed that there is a lot more cricket in him. Coming ahead in the batting order he excelled with some marvellous stroke-play and clever running between the wickets. In the earlier game against the Indians he clung to some brilliant catches and with these efforts he has shown that he is rejuvenating.

After Kaluwitharne set the pace, vice captain Aravinda and skipper Arjuna two of the finest batsmen in world cricket batted in champion style to take apart the Kiwi bowling. They were the masters so much so that the Kiwi fielding fell to pieces acknowledging their mastery.

On the field too the Lankans never slackened till the final ball was bowled and the last Kiwi wicket captured. So the stage is set then for another nail biting final at the Premadasa Stadium under lights today.

As usual local cricket fans will cheer and encourage their local heroes and will be looking for another convincing victory to celebrate.

However the Lankans will do well not to allow complacency to set in. Many a formidable side has been known to tumble when complacent. Here Ranatunga and De Silva have a big responsibility in asking their teammates to focus on the tough task ahead and not take things easy.

The Indians who have been beaten many a time by the Lankans will be looking for revenge. The Lankans first and most important job is to prise out Tendulkar early. To allow him to settle would mean to do a lot of leather chasing.

They must put Tendulkar under pressure and attack him. Opening bowler Suresh Perera is good potential and he must bowl wicket to wicket and pitch on a good line and length and not bend his back looking for pace.

Everything is set for the big occasion and we hope the rains will hold back and allow an exciting game.

The cricket selectors with Duleep Mendis at the helm have done well in picking a well balanced team to England. They have given skipper Ranatunga a squad with experience and some promising material.

England is a good learning ground and youngsters such as Mahela Jayawardena, Russel Arnold, Upul Chandana, Prasanna Jayawardena, Suresh Perera, Mario Villayarayen and Niroshan Bandaratilleke should come out better cricketers after this experience.

It is nice to see Chandika Hathurusinghe back in the big league. He has been performing well, in domestic cricket which warranted his recall and as an all-rounder he will be an asset to Ranatunga.

Schoolboy Prasanna Jayawardena too has been rewarded. He had a dream tour of South Africa for the youth world cup, where he won the best wicket keepers award and the selectors have made a bold step in putting him on the flight to England.

This is probably the first time that two wicket keepers from the same school are in a national squad and going on tour. Kaluwitharne and Jayawardena are from St. Sebastian's College, Moratuwa.

Duleep Mendis, chairman of the cricket selectors informs me that the policy of the selectors who are all former reputed players is to seek the advice of the captain and the coach when selections are done.

'It is not a one-man selection committee', he reiterated.

Source: The Daily News

Contributed by CricInfo Management

Date-stamped : 07 Jul1998 - 10:24