The eight-day long quadrangular tournament consisting of Sri Lanka’s best limited overs players concluded yesterday (11th April, 2019) as Galle and Colombo shared the trophy as Joint-Champions.
Including the rain-affected Final, almost every match in this tournament saw one or two players coming up with brilliant, standout performances. This tournament being considered as a trial for the forthcoming World Cup in England, the best performers of this tournament will have a very good chance of featuring in the final 15 which will take wing to England.
Galle and Colombo shared the SLC Super Provincial..
With Sri Lanka’s first match in Cardiff just 48 days away, here is the Team of the Provincial tournament.
There were 8 openers who took part in this competition for the 4 teams and two left-handers, who are currently out of the Sri Lanka white ball teams, sit on top of the charts with highest runs among all opening batsmen. The duo in fact find themselves among the top 5 run scorers of the tournament.
1. Lahiru Thirimanne (Team Galle)
Thanks largely to his century in the washed out final, Lahiru Thirimanne ended the tournament as the 2nd highest run-scorer of the tournament while being the highest run-scorer among openers. His 2nd highest score of the tournament was 82, which came in the game against Dambulla.
With an average of 53.25 and a decent strike rate of 81.92, Thirimanne will be eyeing a World Cup spot as a reward for his success in the Provincial Tournament. He last played an ODI for Sri Lanka back in 2017 in India. Although he has scored 8 half-centuries including 4 80+ scores in his last 20 ODI innings for Sri Lanka, his below par strike-rate has been his downfall.
Interestingly Thirimanne has not opened for Sri Lanka in ODIs since he last did it in the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2015. So it is the openers slot once again, to which he is trying to fit in to make a comeback.
2. Dimuth Karunaratne (Team Kandy)
Captain of Team Kandy, Dimuth Karunaratne had a good tournament apart from the 2-ball duck in the 3rd place play-off against Dambulla. He ended the tournament as the 5th highest run-scorer with 165 runs, averaging 55.
His series tally, consists of just 1 half-century but has a healthy strike-rate of 90.65. His highest score of 86 against Dambulla, came in just 74 deliveries and came while chasing. This innings adds a lot of points to his account to fit in to Sri Lanka’s opening batsman’s position at the World Cup.
With him being tipped to take leadership in Sri Lanka’s World Cup campaign, Karunaratne has made a statement through his performance in this tournament that he is ready to take up the responsibility. However, his team ended as 4th in the tournament.
Apart from Karunaratne and Thirimanne, Sandun Weerakkody, Sadeera Samarawickrama and Avishka Fernando ended the tournament with decent returns while more experienced national openers Danushka Gunathilake, Upul Tharanga and Niroshan Dickwella flopped terribly.
Selecting the middle order was pretty straight forward, except for the number 3 slot.
3. Dhananjaya De Silva (Team Galle)
Dhananjaya De Silva was picked over Sangeeth Cooray of Kandy as one down batsman of the Team of the Tournament. Cooray, having missed out on the first match of the tournament, ended up as the 4th highest run scorer with 172 runs in 3 games, averaging 57.33.
De Silva on the other hand averages just 40 for his 160 in 4 matches, but was picked ahead of Cooray for the 3 wickets he picked up against Dambulla. He was also named player of the tournament for his all-round performances.
Interestingly De Silva has batted at number 3 for Sri Lanka in ODIs just once. Batting in the lower middle order or as an opener in most of his appearances for Sri Lanka in ODIs, Dhananjaya De Silva may be considered to bat at 3 for Sri Lanka in the World Cup considering his success in the Provincial Tournament.
4. Bhanuka Rajapakshe (Team Dambulla)
The number 4 spot had no better contender than the dashing left-hander Bhanuka Rajapakshe, who was once believed to be the next big thing in Sri Lanka Cricket. Unfortunately, not getting the required opening to break in to the scene, Rajapakshe has been sidelined from the National set up.
With consistent performances leading up to this tournament in domestic leagues, Rajapakshe has made a strong point with his bat. Scoring 176 runs at an average of 44, Rajapakshe sits in 3rd place in the top run getters’ chart. His stand out performance in the tournament was his 87-ball 95 against Kandy in the 3rd place play-off.
His strike rate of 94.62 shows his ability to score runs quickly and gives him an added advantage to get in to the final squad to play the World Cup.
5. Angelo Mathews (Team Dambulla)
Arguably the best batsman in Sri Lanka at the moment, former Captain Angelo Mathews started off the tournament poorly, scoring just 1 against Colombo in the 1st game. Swapping positions with Bhanuka Rajapakshe and moving down one place to number 5, brought him different results as he scored 78 against an in-form Galle bowling attack.
Continuing the momentum from that game, Mathews ended as the highest run scorer of the tournament as he signed off with a century in the 3rd place play off. He averaged an excellent 56.75 in 4 matches with a strike rate of 86.97.
Mathews, who didn’t bowl during the tournament, is expected to fit in to Sri Lanka’s middle order in the World Cup as a genuine batsman and could also lead the side as well.
6. Minod Bhanuka (WK) (Team Galle)
Uncapped Minod Bhanuka was the most successful wicket keeper batsman in the tournament by far as he became the highest run-scorer among all wicket keepers. Sandun Weerakkody although he didn’t keep wickets in this tournament, sits next to Bhanuka in terms of runs scored along with Sadeera Samarawickrama who also has 6 dismissals against his name.
Having made 7 dismissals, just 1 behind Niroshan Dickwella’s 8, Bhanuka pips out Samarawickrama to get the wicket keeper’s spot in the team of the tournament.
The uncapped 23-year old gloveman was once named in the Sri Lanka T20I squad which played Pakistan, including a T20I in Lahore. With many other wicket keepers in the fray, it is very unlikely that he will make the final cut to play the World Cup.
Apart from Dhananjaya de Silva two more all-rounders made it to the team of the Super Provincial Tournament 2019.
7. Jeevan Mendis (Team Dambulla)
The veteran leg-spinning all-rounder comes in to the team with 83 runs, averaging 41.5 and 6 wickets in 3 matches. He started off the tournament with a bang as he picked up 4 wickets against Colombo in the curtain raiser in Dambulla. He also ended the tournament with a 33-ball half-century against Kandy.
Wanindu De Silva of Galle was also a strong contender for the number 7 spot with 149 runs in 4 matches. Interestingly Wanindu bowled in just 1 match, in which he picked up a single wicket.
Jeevan Mendis last played an ODI for Sri Lanka back in 2015, during the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Although he has not been considered for 50-over matches since then, he has been in and out of the T20I set up. This performance suggests us that he could play ODIs for Sri Lanka once again in a World Cup.
8. Thisara Perera (Team Kandy)
Sri Lanka’s most experienced all-rounder at the moment, Thisara Perera ended the tournament as the 2nd highest wicket-taker with 7 wickets, behind Lasith Malinga the top wicket-taker.
Thisara was picked ahead of Isuru Udana and Chamika Karunaratne in this team, for his higher strike rate and higher number of wickets. Udana and Karunaratne, who had scored 79 and 62 runs respectively in total, compared to Perera’s 42, had done their scoring with strike rates of 100 and 110.71. Perera’s 42 has a strike rate of 131.25 which makes him sit in the number 8 position along with the 7 wickets he has taken.
Perera’s stand out performance in this tournament was against Dambulla in the last league match. He picked up 4 wickets for just 25 runs in that game. His inclusion in Sri Lanka’s World Cup squad is almost a foregone conclusion.
9. Akila Dananjaya (Team Colombo)
The 2nd highest wicket taker among spinners, behind Jeevan Mendis, Akila Dananjaya ended the tournament as the 5th highest wicket taker. Out of the 6 wickets he took throughout the tournament, 5 wickets were taken against Galle in their last league match.
Regarded as Sri Lanka’s best spinner at the moment, Akila’s inclusion in the World Cup squad is expected and he most probably will be Sri Lanka’s lone spinner in the final playing XI.
10. Suranga Lakmal (Team Colombo)
Sri Lanka’s former Test vice-captain, Suranga Lakmal finished the tournament as the 6th highest wicket taker with 5 wickets. He was picked ahead of Kasun Rajitha who has taken 2 more wickets than Lakmal, for his impressive average.
Lakmal having missed out on one match in the tournament, averaged 21 while Rajitha’s bowling average was 31. Lakmal also has maintained a very good economy rate of 4.56 while Rajitha’s economy rate was 6.37.
Interestingly Lakmal is yet to play an ODI for Sri Lanka in 2019; his last ODI for Sri Lanka was against Bangladesh in their disastrous Asia Cup campaign. Having had a decent Champions Trophy in England 2 years ago and also being in quit good form at the moment, Lakmal has a high probability of getting picked for the World Cup.
11. Lasith Malinga © (Team Galle)
The man who lit up the entire tournament with his 7 wickets in the tournament opener, Lasith Malinga is an obvious pick for both the team of the tournament and Sri Lanka’s World Cup squad.
Being named Captain in our XI, Malinga is yet to be confirmed as the skipper for the World Cup. Leading his team for the Final, Malinga also ended up as the highest wicket taker of the tournament with 8 wickets.
Although he started off with a 7-wicket haul, Malinga managed to pick up just 1 wicket in the remainder of the tournament.