Desperate Sri Lanka searching for elusive complete performance | Daily News

Desperate Sri Lanka searching for elusive complete performance

TAURANGA, Friday - Despite their 45-run loss in the first One-Day International, Sri Lanka will be slightly satisfied with the fight they showed in chase of a daunting target as they go into the second ODI at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui on Saturday.

It was Martin Guptill’s century and an all-round show from James Neesham that made the difference but Sri Lanka found their heroes as well before going down. The visitors have lost four of their last five ODIs but did well to threaten New Zealand in parts.

However, the visitors will be well aware that their issues are large enough to overshadow good performances. The revival needs to come from all departments. The bowlers have let the team down but the batsmen have played their part as well is spoiling things just when it seemed everything was coming together.

They could look back at their win in the ODI against England in Colombo last year after being humbled in the series. Half-centuries from the top four were followed by the bowlers chipping in with crucial wickets.

In their chase in the first ODI, after the openers had posted 119 inside 18 overs, Sri Lanka looked good to run New Zealand close. Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal and Asela Gunaratne were the biggest disappointments as they not only failed to capitalise on the platform set but also pulled the team down with their scoring rate. Their dismissals crippled Kusal Perera and the match slipped away even before he could completely open up.

Bowling is another major concern and one aspect that needs to be addressed is their death bowling. Neesham made the difference in the end with his unbeaten 13-ball 47 as Thisara Perera leaked 34 in the 49th over. Lasith Malinga isn’t the same anymore and the team needs to identify their death bowlers and give them ample opportunities ahead of the World Cup.

Another issue that’s plaguing them is Dickwella’s inability to convert his starts. From his 47 games, the opener has nine half-centuries and only two centuries. When he was dismissed for a 50-ball 76 he had not only thrown away a ton, he had also given the hosts a chance to slam the door shut on his team.

Sri Lanka were fined for slow over rate and one more such instance could see Malinga getting banned. The visitors, certainly, wouldn’t want to head into the final contest with the series gone and their newly appointed captain on the sidelines as well.

For New Zealand, the first game checked plenty of boxes. New Zealand coach Gary Stead had stressed this series is an opportunity for players to grab a spot in the World Cup side. Tom Latham and Colin de Grandhomme, who have been rested for this series, are expected to be part of the travelling party and Neesham did exceptionally well to make a claim for the few remaining spots. More will be expected from Henry Nicholls and Tim Seifert with the bat while Matt Henry will be eager to turn things around after a disappointing outing.

If New Zealand are able to seal the series, they will also be able to give their key players some additional rest ahead of the series against India. For Sri Lanka, though, time is running away quick and fast and they certainly wouldn’t want to enter the World Cup without a settled combination.


 

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