They may have avoided relegation to ninth spot in the rankings which would have forced them to play the qualifiers of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, but that has been little consolation for Sri Lanka, who succumbed to their third 5-0 series whitewash this year. Before the start of 2017, Sri Lanka had been whitewashed only once (in India in 2014), but this year, the team’s performance has nosedived.
Prior to 2017, in their history of ODI cricket, Sri Lanka had suffered only one 5-0 whitewash..
First the South Africans handed them a heavy 5-0 drubbing, followed by a first ever home series whitewash at the hands of India in August and now another massive loss here in UAE. The nine-wicket defeat in the fifth ODI in Sharjah was Sri Lanka’s 12th straight loss and their second worst sequence in ODIs. After 26 games in 2017, Sri Lanka have won just four matches.
Source – Cricbuzz
A Test series win that preceded the ODIs, gave a false sense of assurance that the Sri Lankans had begun to turn things around. But that was against a side that was rebuilding following the retirements of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan. Against a stronger Pakistan ODI side, the winners of ICC Champions Trophy, the tourists were exposed and they failed to compete having been beaten handsomely in all five games.
Batting has been Sri Lanka’s Achilles’ heel in recent times and they have not crossed the 240 mark in the last 12 games. It was expected that Sri Lanka will address the batting woes after the recent slump, but they failed to do it and paid a heavy price.
Sri Lanka named just six specialist batsmen for the ODI series, including wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella. Their choice for number six was all-rounder Milinda Siriwardena. It was a big gamble to bank on someone with just 13 fifties and no hundreds after nearly 150 List ‘A’ games to bat at six. Siriwardena finished the series with 23 runs and his innocuous left-arm spin failed to fetch a wicket after five games.
The Siriwardana situation was only the tip of the iceberg. Sri Lanka’s highest total in the series was 209 and with such below par efforts with the bat they were not going to challenge teams. Sri Lanka’s openers put on a 50-plus stand only once and that exposed the middle order against quality seam bowling early. The middle overs were dominated by the spinners, with leg-spinner Shadab Khan’s googly creating havoc. Of the top six batters, only two managed to score more than 75 runs in the entire series.
Upul Tharanga’s position as captain also will come under scrutiny following the series. Never a natural leader, there were few eyebrows raised when Sanath Jayasuriya appointed his former opening partner as Sri Lanka’s captain for the shorter formats.
Pakistan demolished Sri Lanka by 9 wickets in Sharjah to complete a 5-0 whitewash on Monday…
All three whitewashes this year came under his leadership and he was also suspended twice for slow over rates and faces a heavy ban if he is found guilty again before next June. Whether he will stay as captain after this series remains to be seen, having refused to step down on Monday (October 23). His decision to not to tour Lahore for the one off T20 International later this month seems to have angered a few people at Maitland Place.
SLC’s decision to part ways with coach Graham Ford has also not gone down too well. Since the respected South African vacated his position in June, they have been unable to address the downward slide. In July this year, Sri Lanka suffered a first ever series defeat to Zimbabwe.
There’s also criticism on diluting the domestic structure last year. Former players have stressed the need to going back to the Provincial Tournament with just five teams. The 14 teams that competed in the Premier League tournament was seen as way too many but, last year, ten more teams were granted first class status diluting the competition even further. The move was seen as an effort to please the clubs that vote during cricket elections but since then the performance of the Sri Lankan team has gone from bad to worse.
Sri Lanka have multiple holes to plug in their rocking boat and the shore isn’t in sight.