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Sunday, 6 February 2011

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Tharanga century helps Sri Lanka

A well compiled unbeaten century from left handed opening batsman Upul Tharanga gave Sri Lanka an encouraging victory by eight wickets against the West Indies in their quest for the 2011 World Cup in their second of three one-dayers at the SSC on Thursday.

The first game was abandoned at the same venue after West Indies batting first had made a challenging score of 245 for 5 when the rains came down and drenched the field and that was it. Tharanga who was Sanath Jayasuriya's opening partner seems to have learnt from the 'Matara Mauler'. From the manner in which Tharanga is stroking the ball, it is apparent that the great man's mannerisms in batting have rubbed off on him.

Ideal platform

Good for Tharanga and it is hoped that he will continue in the same form in the more important 2011 World Cup games and together with the dashing Tillekeratne Dilshan will provide Sri Lanka with the ideal platform for the batsmen following to launch.

During his century Tharanga showed good discipline which is very important in this style of game. He has the strokes to make big runs.

What he needs to do is to concentrate and endeavour to bat through the innings.

It was a good beginning for him and it is hoped that he will carry this form into the big ones ahead. He has come back to form after a long time and that is a good omen. He was middling the ball well and his timing was perfect.

Pace and bounce

He has the strokes. What he has to do is to quickly get accustom to the wicket, read the pace and bounce on it and then cut loose with his stroke play that is elegant and eye-catching and which could be demoralizing to the opposing bowlers.

Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara too played pleasingly. But what warmed the cockles in addition to Tharanga's form was the inspiring and exemplary batting of former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardena.

Jayawardena has a big responsibility in batting and that is to keep his end going and hold the batting together. The longer he stays at the wicket he will be able to tell the batsmen following how to go and his influence will have a telling effect.

Skipper pleased

Skipper Sangakkara said he was pleased the way the bowlers performed. He made mention of Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekera, the pacemen and spinners Muttiah Muralitharan and complimented Tharanga and Jayawardena for their batting.

For the West Indies it was not the beginning they would have liked. They would have been glad to be on the winning side. But the batting, unlike in the first game did not click and give them a total to challenge the Lankan batting.

Big runs were expected from Chris Gayle, Adrian Barath, Darren Bravo and Ramnaresh Sarwan, but they failed to oblige. Barath who batted splendid in the first game to make a dazzling hundred, could not give that innings continuity.

Consistency hallmark

Barath has the technique, the timing and the strokes to be a great batsman. He must be told that an odd big innings is not what is expected of a great batsman. Consistency is the hallmark of great batsmen.

The bowlers too were found wanting and failed to trouble the Lankan batsmen. They seemed to lack the all important penetration and allowed the Lankan batsmen free reign to make runs.

Skipper Darren Sammy who played the shot of the match in the first game when he flickled a full toss from Malinga over the mid wicket fence with rare timing was not at all happy with his team's performance and promised to get back to the drawing board and analyze where they went wrong and do better in the final game today.

Aussies on a roll

The Australian cricketers who took a bad beating from the Brits in the 'Ashes' Test series, seem to hitting back with a vengeance in the one-day series and are set to win the series convincingly.

At the time of writing, the Aussies are leading the series 5-1 with the final of seven one-dayers to be played out today and the kangaroos are in good form to pocket the final game too.

After their resounding success in the Test series, it looked like the Brits would be threatening opponents in the one-dayers and would challenge for the 2011 World Cup, which cup they have not won since its inception in 1975.

But the poor attitude and lack of depth in limited over cricket has made their supporters ask questions and wonder whether they will be worthy opponents in the tournament in the sub continent.

Heart breaking

But cricket being a funny game - it could be celebrations one time and cruel and heart breaking next time. But the Brits led by Andrew Strauss are not going to allow the bashing by the Aussies to unsettle them and dampen their hopes of a tilt at the World Cup which they will love to win for the first time.

The Brits seem to have the batting to make big totals. But what must be worrying them is poor quality of their bowling which is unable to bowl out the Aussies cheaply. They probably are missing Graeme Swann and Tim Bresnan.

But come World Cup time and Strauss would have licked his men into being formidable opponents, front up to all opponents, defeat them and hold aloft the World Cup which must be the dream of the players and their countrymen.

Worthy skipper

As for the Aussies even without regular skipper Ricky Ponting they are showing how formidable they are with the ease they are bashing the Brits. Michael Clarke who is tipped to take over from Ponting is proving his credentials as a worthy skipper.

The Achilles heel in the Aussie get up is that they lack a spin bowler of the calibre of the famous Shane Warne whose leggies and other repertoire of deliveries were anathema to opposing batsmen and who was a match winner on his day.

The Aussies have the batsmen and fielders to win for them to their fifth World Cup. They will attempt to destroy their opponents with fearsome and life threatening pace.

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