Mahinda Wijesinghe, in The Sunday Island, 4 March 2012
As Alice (in Wonderland) looking at her seemingly vanishing feet said, it is getting “Curioser and Curioser”, the current CB series seems to be going the same way. With the inevitable and interminable intrigue going on in our cricket administration, hardly anyone except a die-hard Sri Lankan supporter, and a supreme optimist would have given much chance of Sri Lanka reaching the finals in the ongoing Commonwealth Bank triangular series.
Again, who but a supreme optimist could have predicted that Sri Lanka would register a ‘hat-trick’ of wins against Australia (in their own den) including the gaining of a bonus point – which proved crucial – to boot?
Whilst on the subject of ‘hat-tricks’, Australian paceman, Christian (5/31) not only claimed a hat-trick in the Melbourne encounter on Friday, his figures are the third best performance by an Australian bowler against Sri Lanka. Yet, he ended in the losing side. Then, the 123-run partnership between Chandimal and Sangakkara is the third highest 3rd wicket partnership stand for Sri Lanka in ODIs against Australia. The target of 239 set by Sri Lanka is the third lowest that Australia has, so far, failed to chase down.
Another statistical mark was achieved by Sri Lanka’s new batting sensation 22-year old Dinesh Chandimal when he accumulated the second highest aggregate of runs (383 in 6 completed innings including 4 half-centuries) in the entire tournament. Only Australian Mike Hussey pipped him with 412 runs. Who, except our much-maligned optimist could have expected the alumni from Ananda College to register successive innings of 64, 37, 81, 6*, 38, 80, 2* & 75, and become the top-scorer of the innings on three occasions? Who but a pessimist (for a change) would have expected Sri Lanka, after having recorded a comfortable total of 320/4, against India, with Dilshan (160*) and Sangakkara (105) being associated in a 200-run partnership to lose with 80 balls to spare and concede a bonus point as well? This was bitter gall. It is also the highest partnership in ODIs in Hobart surpassing the 165-run stand between England’s Nick Knight and Marcus Trescothick, established in 2003. The double-hundred stand is also the 11th in the history of the Australian tri-series and the second for Sri Lanka in the competition. Who ever expected Lasith Malinga to be thrashed to the tune of a record 96 runs in 7.4 overs including one over when he was carted for 24 runs? In fact, his economy-rate of 12.52 is the worst for a bowler in ODI cricket who had bowled over 5 overs. Yet, in the very next match, against Australia, he was one of the architects of the Sri Lankan win with a sterling bowling performance of 4/49!
Sadly, the Sri Lankans are currently beset with a ‘hat-trick’ of injuries to Farveez Maharoof, Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera. However, this CB series have come up with many surprises, so let us wait and see what happens next!