Avishka has earned his place

by Elmo Rodrigopulle

18 June 1998

Now that the Test series against the Kiwis are over and all plans meticulously laid by the organisers the Cricket Board and the sponsors Singer for the Akai Nidahas Trophy the only damp squib could be the wet weather conditions if they continue.

50 years of Independence is a milestone that any country could be proud of. And Singer, sponsors of the Sri Lanka team must be applauded for sewing up this historic tournament.

With only the one-off Test match against England at Lord's to be honoured, Sri Lanka's sights will be set on retaining the World Cup to be played in England next year.

Skipper Arjuna Ranatunga who brooks no nonsense from whatever quarter it comes from, will from now on be telling the selectors, that while giving him a squad that will give England a run in the Test, they must give him a strong all round strike force that will bring back the World Cup.

The Sri Lankans are masters in the 'cowboy game'. Beginning from Friday where they will meet former World Champions India in the opening game of the Akai Nidhas Trophy, Ranatunga and his squad will be determined to keep the Independence Cup in the shelves of the Cricket Board.

Of the 14-member squad that will be given 'Captain Cool', dashing left hander Avishka Gunawardena who bashed the Kiwi bowlers around in Kurunegala will be at top of the selectors' list.

Gunewardena who is a believer that the ball is there to be hit is strongly built with a good eye and good technique. He could be another Sanath Jayasuriya in the making if properly handled.

On form the following should comprise the Sri Lanka 14-member squad for the triangular series in batting order: Sanath Jayasuriya, Avishka Gunawardena, Marvan Atapattu, Aravinda de Silva, Arjuna Ranatunga, Mahela Jayawardena, Romesh Kaluwitharna, Kumara Dharmasena, Pramodya Wickremasinghe, Niroshan Bandarathilake and Muttiah Muralitheran. The side liners being Ravindra Pushpakumara, Hashan Tillekeratne and Roshan Mahanama.

The selectors headed by Duleep Mendis must be patted on the back for fearlessly tossing in fast man Pushpakumara. The reasons for his being left out after the South African tour, if reasons there are will be interesting to know. He has missed training with the team and it could be a bold step if the selectors name him in the squad.

The Kiwis will be looking to fly high after their debacle in the Test series. They seem to be having a better one-day squad. They sure will be a force to be reckoned with.

The Indians under Azharuddin will be looking for revenge after their loss to Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup. Azharuddin who has had his team on a roll after taking over the reins will be determined to further bash his critics, who were instrumental in his removal.

However our money will be on the Sri Lankans.

Source: The Daily News

Contributed by CricInfo Management

Date-stamped : 18 Jun1998 - 14:39