Lanka Premier League – the poor man’s IPL – may not have had all the glamour but it has given the fans the thrills, the players and support staff the money and Sri Lanka Cricket a platform from which they can make the sport more exciting.
The impact many young players had in this competition augurs well for the future of cricket in Sri Lanka.
Young leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga has been the standout performer among the bowlers and with Lasith Malinga on his last legs, he has emerged as the nation’s leading bowler in T20 cricket; it is quite a compliment for a 23-year-old. His 13 wickets are the most by a bowler in the competition so far and to outperform some of overseas stars speaks volumes of his ability to make an impact in the game.
The growing global trend in T20 cricket is to rely heavily on your wrist spinners. Not so long ago, India played two of them in their side – Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. The insiders of the Sri Lankan dressing room predict that Hasaranga is going to be the next big star and that’s sufficient reason to cheer up given our cricket’s recent struggles.
Hasaranga’s wrong ’un is his specialty and he has outfoxed some clever batsmen. Jaffna Stallions have used him as an attacking option. Apart from accuracy and wicket taking abilities, Hasaranga also chips in with the bat and shows huge energy levels on the field. There of course is room for improvement and the coaches will need to take a look at his delivery stride which looks like it may bring him some injury trouble in the future.
Although he doesn’t generate much pace, Binura Fernando at six foot six is able to get awkward bounce and seam the ball back, making it uncomfortable for the batsmen. There is a slight flaw in his technique as his front arm drops too early and remedying that may allow him to get that extra yard of pace.
A lot of people seem to be excited with what Dhananjaya Lakshan has to offer but the thing is at the moment we have too many all-rounders in the set up and unless he can master one area – batting or bowling – it will be tough for him to progress any further.
As Nuwan Thushara sent down a few overs, the initial excitement came actually from India with friends texting and wanting to find out his whereabouts. Such has been Lasith Malinga’s impact in the game and particularly in India; don’t be surprised if he is bought at the next IPL auction.
With net bowlers not allowed when Sri Lanka go to South Africa later this month, all were of the view that Dilshan Madushanaka was there just to make up the numbers. But representing Dambulla Viikings he has showcased what he is capable of doing, bowling at impressive pace and bringing the ball back into the right-handed batsman – the killer delivery that another left-arm quick Chaminda Vaas produced time and again with devastating success.
Off-spinner Ramesh Mendis is another player to take note of and he has done pretty well for Dambulla Viikings. He is a better batsman than what he has showcased thus far in the competition and hopefully he has reserved his best for the business end of the competition that begins later this week.
While several young players have made an impact in bowling, batting has been a bit of drawback. It is disappointing that the usual suspects have made an impact with the bat and not many young players have put their hands up. Charith Asalanka is probably the only player to showcase that he is ready to move on from club cricket to the next level. He was certainly worth more than the mere three games he got.
One of the drawbacks in the competition, however, is the overall fielding. All five teams have been sloppy, dropping catches and giving away too many runs due to misfields. Quite a few games in the tournament have been lost due to fielding lapses. We know that dew has been a factor and that hasn’t helped the fielders to be on the money, but some of the mistakes have been schoolboy stuff.
Good fielding nowadays is paramount to success. Not just catches win matches but sloppy fielding is bad advertisement for the competition itself. An outstanding catch alone is good publicity for the event as people start talking about it at length in this social media dominated world.
Kudos to SLC for pulling this off despite facing numerous setbacks. The returns have been beyond expectations and hopefully the knockouts will give more thrills. Already there has been interest from many corners and don’t be surprised if you see more than five teams in the second edition onwards.