Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 21 December 2014





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Tour of New Zealand a blessing in disguise:

Sri Lanka to be well prepared for...WORLD CUP

Angelo Mathews Sri Lanka captain

The on going Sri Lanka cricket tour of New Zealand will no doubt be a blessing in disguise in Sri Lankaís preparation for the World Cup to be held jointly in New Zealand and Australia, as Sri Lanka is down to play the Kiwis in two Test matches and seven ODIís in their lengthy cricket tour which begins today (Sunday) with a warm-up two day game confronting a New Zealand XI at Queenstown.

The Sri Lanka Test squad to meet the Kiwis in the two Test matches left the Island in the early hours of Wednesday, the one day squad will replace some of the players soon after the Tests to play seven ODIís and the final ODI squad for the World Cup will remain in New Zealand till March 29 if the Lankans could find a place in the final which is to be played on March 29 at the Melbourne Cricket grounds in Australia.

So, Sri Lanka should have ample time to find their right combination for the World Cup and also sufficient time to acclimatise themselves to the different conditions from home.

The Sri Lankans are well aware of the conditions in New Zealand and have included six pacemen in their Test squad which includes skipper Angelo Mathews, Shaminda Eranga, Suranga Lakmal, Dammika Prasad, Dushmantha Chameera making his first tour with the national team and Nuwan Pradeep.

Lakmal seems to be bowling better

Along with skipper Angelo Mathews, Dammika Prasad has fared impressively in the recent past and Suranga Lakmal has made a welcome return after being side lined due to injury. Lakmal seems to be stronger and bowling better after his lay off due to injury. Lakmal proved his bowling ability by troubling the English batsmen on the recent tour. With the non-availability of leg-spinner Rangana Herath due to personal reasons for the first Test which begins on December 26, both Dilruwan Perera and Tharindu Kaushal are expected to take charge of the spin attack. Perera has played Tests, but Tharindu Kaushal who was ignored in home Test matches will no doubt find his way into the Test team.

However, the Lankans are still to find an effective opening batting combination in both formats of the game. With the retirement of T.M. Dilshan from Test cricket, the selectors have been trying various combinations. On the present tour, right hander Kaushal Silva and left- hander Dimuth Karunaratne will open the innings in the Tests. A good performance by the openers could prompt the selectors to find an opening partner for Dilshan in the limited overs game. Kusal Janith Perera who will be in the ODI squad has been inconsistant, although devastating at times. The Lankans should consider themselves extremely lucky as they will be playing some of their World Cup matches in Kiwi land, the opening game against New Zealand at the Hagley Oval, Christchurch on February 14, 2015. Thereafter, Sri Lanka will take on Afghanistan in Dunedin on February 22 and England on March 1st at Wellington. They will then move on to Sydney, Australia to take on the co-hosts Australia in a day/night match on March 8th and meet Scotland on March 11 in Horbart, Tasmania in another day night match at the group stage of the 2015 World Cup.

New Zealand Tour

Dec: 21 - 22 New Zealand XI Vs Sri Lanka at Queenstown
Dec: 26 Ė 30 1st Test at Hagley Oval, Christchurch.
Jan: 3 -7 2nd Test at Wellington, Basin Reserve
Jan: 11 - 1st ODI at Hagley Oval, Christchurch
Jan: 15th 2nd ODI (D/N) at Seddan Park, Hamilton.

Jan: 17th - 3rd ODI at Eden Park, Auckland.
Jan: 20th - 4th ODI at Saxton Oval, Nelson
Jan: 23 - 5th ODI at University, Oval, Dunedin.
Jan: 25th 6th ODI at Dunedin
Jan: 29 7th ODI at Westpack Stadium, Wellington.

The Sri Lanka Test squad.

Angelo Mathews (Captain), Kaushal Silva, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kumar Sangakkara, Lahiru Thirimanne, Niroshan Dickwella, Prasanna Jayawardene, Dinesh Chandimal, Dilruwan Perera, Tharindu Kaushal, Shaminda Eranga, Suranga Lakmal, Dammika Prasad, Dusmantha Chameera, Nuwan Pradeep and Rangana Herath.

The ODI squad and the World Cup will be picked shortly.



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