With only a few days left for the announcement of the 15-man Sri Lanka ODI squad for the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 in England & Wales, ThePapare.com takes a closer look at the potential opening batsmen for Sri Lanka in this all-important tournament.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) today announced a stellar line up of commentators as well as detailed broadcast production plans, which…
In the past Sri Lanka was able to boast of many established and flamboyant openers. However, of late, the Islanders have struggled to find a stable opening duo and have seen more than a half-a-dozen combinations in the past 12 months.
We take a look at six potential candidates vying for these two pivotal slots in the playing XI with the national selection committee, headed by one of the most destructive openers in world cricket’s history, Sanath Jayasuriya, looking to include a maximum of three openers in the final touring party.
Without a doubt, the most experienced current player for Sri Lanka in limited-overs cricket with over 200 caps and close to 6000 runs including 14 centuries, Upul Tharanga should be an automatic selection for the opening slot in England. Tharanga led Sri Lanka to a tri-series win in Zimbabwe last November, a 5-0 whitewash loss against South Africa and 1-1 draw against Bangladesh due to the continued absence of regular skipper Angelo Mathews.
In these 13 matches as the captain, he opened the batting in 7 matches and amassed 302 runs with a blistering 119 against South Africa being his standout knock. Tharanga averages a little less than 70 as an opener in England and will surely be looking to repeat his 2006 performances where he partnered up with the current chairman of selectors, Sanath Jayasuriya to torment the English bowlers.
With Mathews expected to return to the helm, Tharanga should have the license to bat freely minus the burden of captaincy and will look to function as the main cog in the Lankan batting wheel as an opening batsman.
An unexpected series leveling win by the Bangladeshis in the 2nd Test at the P Sara Stadium saw the visitors…
Kusal Janith Perera
The dashing left-hander has definitely shown the world what he can do in the past in the limited-over format but since his debut in 2013, ‘Podi Sana’ has only averaged 26.80 as an opening batsman in 57 matches. In the past 12 months, Perera has only mustered one century as an opening batsman, that too against Ireland last June.
A string of failures in the longest format of the game and an injury saw him losing his place but he came back into the national team with an explosive 77 against Bangladesh and single-handedly steered Sri Lanka to a 6-wicket win in the first T20I a few weeks ago.
Perera averages 11.72 in 11 games played in England in the past two instances and managed just 14 runs in the last ICC Champions Trophy also played in the United Kingdom in 2013. His last ODI assignment was in Zimbabwe where he failed miserably, scoring 46 in 5 innings; so, it remains to be seen if the selectors go with Perera.
He reinvented the ‘Dilscoop’ to a ‘Dickscoop’ and has made it his own during the last couple of months. Despite an average ODI debut in 2014 against India, Dickwella’s second coming last year has been effective for Sri Lanka in the top order as he ended the Tri-Series in Zimbabwe as the highest run-scorer for Sri Lanka and now averages 38.00 in fifty-over cricket in 11 games.
He was ruled out of the Bangladesh ODIs and T20’s due to a hairline fracture to his left hand and has reportedly returned to full fitness recently. The former Trinity College skipper was not named in the squads for the Super Provincial Tournament but according to reliable sources, he might make an appearance from 20th April to prove his fitness and will look to put his hand up for selection with a few credible performances.
The Dickwella-Tharanga combo starred for the Islanders against the Proteas in the 4th ODI in South Africa, as they raced to 100 runs in the first 10 overs, which was Sri Lanka’s second-highest 10 over total in ODIs since 2001. Will the selectors reunite the NCC opening pair in England?
The attacking left-handed opening batsman, Danushka Gunathilaka has shown great promise with the bat so far since his debut in 2015 but has not capitalized on the opportunities afforded to him by scoring consistently. He averages only 23.33 in 18 ODI innings with only 3 fifties to his name. He opened the batting for Sri Lanka in the most recent ODI assignment against Bangladesh and made scores of 0,9,34 but was not considered for the T20’s when Kusal Perera returned.
Gunathilaka has been a terrific performer with the bat for the Sri Lanka ‘A’ team and his domestic outfit SSC, yet he has not had a consistent run as an opener for Sri Lanka. Gunathilaka’s excellent fielding will definitely give him an edge but the selectors would certainly look for stability in the top order.
The Sri Lanka Cricket Manager, Asanka Gurusinha spoke highly of Gunathilaka recently and looked at him as a permanent solution to Sri Lnaka’s opening woes; so, will the 26-year old make the trip to England?
Dhananjaya De Silva
The stylish right-handed batsman, Dhananjaya De Silva opened the batting and posted the highest score by a Sri Lankan in his maiden ODI innings as opener, a fluent 76 in the 4th ODI against Australia last August. He has scored two more half-centuries as an opening batsman and averages close to 50 in 6 innings.
De Silva has batted in various positions in the lineup, across all formats albeit having the technique and temperament to be a permanent opener. He scored only 61 runs in 5 matches in his last ODI assignment against South Africa when he batted in the middle order.
He carried drinks against Bangladesh in ODIs but will the selectors take the gamble and use him as an opener to make it a left-right combination in England?
One of the brightest batting stars for the future, right-handed wicket-keeper batsman Sadeera Samarawickrama has been in the form of his life in the past 6 months, top scoring in the four-day domestic competition, scoring heavily for Sri Lanka ‘A’ against England Lions and was also instrumental in guiding the Sri Lanka Emerging XI to the Emerging Asia Cup title.
The 21-year old former Josephian started off the current SLC Super Provincial limited-over tournament with a cracking century and possesses the ability to dominate any bowling attack.
With a couple of provincial matches left before finalizing the squad, will the uncapped Samarawickrama be the ‘Wildcard’ selection for the ICC Champions Trophy?
Who should open the batting for Sri Lanka in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017? Comment your opinion below.