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Slippery Slope

Dilanka Mannakkara

2011-11-06 21:53:00

Sri Lanka bowling attack needs fresh thinking

November XXX, 2011 (TCS) -- Sri Lanka's bowling attack is struggling against Pakistan, lacking variations and consistency that has made the home team, probably one of the weakest among top Test nations.

The problem, may lie with the local coaches who are keen on "pace". But pace is nothing without consistency, accuracy and the ability to swing and seam the ball.

Sri Lanka have not won a Test, losing four and drawing nine matches, since spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan quit the game in July last year, after a world record haul of 800 wickets.

The national team, currently struggling against Pakistan, in the United Arab Emirates, drew the first Test, lost the second and was bowled out for 413 in the first innings of the ongoing third Test.

In the first Test against the visiting Aussies, opening bowlers Suranga Lakmal and Chanaka Welagedara’s bowling averages were higher than Australian openers Shane Watson and Phil Hughes batting averages. How often does that happen?

Shaminda Eranga, who looked to be a saviour for Sri Lanka, was unfortunately injured and missed the Pakistan tour. Going with five pacies, who are quite mediocre and average at their best, makes it difficult to take wickets on the UAEs flat batting pitches.

The bulk of the bowling attack lies with spinners Rangana Herath and Suraj Randiv who have to labour on tracks that do not offer much zip.

Change of Variation

If a Sri Lankan youngster could consistantly bowl at 145 kilometers per hour, he could trouble batsmen with raw pace, learn accuracy and swing the ball. But without accuracy, the 130-135 kmph bowlers look average.

For instance, Dilhara Fernando has pace, but is horrible with his line and length. He tends to bowl no balls even in the middle of a good spell.

Suranga Lakmal, has to bulk up his physic, that will enable him to hit the deck hard, improve on his line and length and unsettle the batsmen. Chanaka Welagedara, the left armer, lacks pace and appears inconsistent with his line after five to six initial overs.

New kid on the block Nuwan Pradeep, has some pace, but needs to learn how to out-fox batsmen.

New Lankan bowling talent

Sri Lankans bowling talent is not bare, but youngsters need more exposure. Currently, injured Shaminda Eranga, appears to be the only pace bowler showing promise.

His replacement all-rounder Kosala Kulasekara, is more of a contained bowler suited to the shorter formats of the game. Kulasekara's bats better than Eranga, but his bowling lacks hostility. He can probably fill the fifth bowlers spot.

Sachithra Senanayke has been Sri Lanka’s best spinner on form, but is yet to make his debut. There are some doubts about his action. If he overcomes it, he can be used as a strike bowler, with a lot of variations.

Leg spinner Seekuge Prasanna is another newbie, who is more of a skiddy bowler. He does not turn the ball much and was dropped after one Test. But with more variety and slower paced balls, he could be quite a handful in Tests. He will play a major part in the upcoming one-day series against Pakistan.

Aggressive opener

Since skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan dropped down the batting to number five, Sri Lanka opening slot depended on a cautious Tharanga Paranavitana and his equally slow young partner, Lahiru Thirimanne.

Dilshan, who slammed a magnificent 193 against Englad at Lords in June, opted not to open, after the recent dismal Australian tour.

The selectors brought him back to open in the ongoing third Test, where he scored 92 in Sharjah. Youngster Dinesh Chandimal, is another possible opener.

Let's hope the Lions pull up their socks and give Pakistan a worthy contest.