WATCH – A look back at 2021 – Sri Lanka Cricket’s year-end review

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2021, undoubtedly an eventful year for Sri Lanka Cricket. It is fair to say it has been a year of change & growth for Sri Lanka. Several new faces walked into the team and made a mark for themselves. The team went from an utter failure to the fan’s favourites within this year. New hope was found for Sri Lanka.

Now it’s time to have a look at the ledger to see how well have the numbers fared for the year 2021.

Sri Lanka has played 44 international games across formats in the year 2021. They managed to win 15 out of them, lost 25 of them and drew 3 games. It doesn’t really look positive for Lanka, does it?

This sure doesn’t reflect the rise in the standard of cricket that Sri Lanka is playing at present.

Now let’s get to the breakdowns. Let’s start with Tests first.

Sri Lanka played 9 Tests in 2021. They played 3 home series against West Indies, Bangladesh and England and 2 away series in West Indies and South Africa.

The Lankans won 3 Tests in 2021 while losing 3 Tests and managing to draw 3 games.

The 3 wins came in home series against Bangladesh and West Indies while they also did lose 2 Tests at Galle at the hands of the Englishmen and another in Johannesburg.

The standout batsman of the year is of course none other than the skipper, Dimuth Karunaratne. The left-hander ends the year as the 3rd highest run-scorer in the world behind Joe Root and Rohit Sharma with 902 runs to his name in 13 innings.

His staggering batting average of 69.38 is the highest in the world this year among cricketers who have played over 5 Tests. He also holds the credit for the highest score of the year for his priceless 244 runs against Bangladesh in Pallekele. This is also the knock of the year in Tests for Sri Lanka.

The southpaw hit 4 centuries and 3 fifties in his 13 outings this year.

On the bowling front, it is the ace left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeiya who has been the most successful this year with 32 Test wickets in his 6 matches.

Embuldeniya sits at the 7th slot in the table of highest wicket-takers with the topper being R Ashwin of India who has taken 52 wickets in 2021.

In spell of the year for Sri Lanka in Tests, it is Ramesh Mendis’ match-winning 6-for against West Indies at Galle. When the Windies we looking to dominate after a batting collapse from Sri Lanka, Mendis kicked in and turned the tables around to his team win the game by a huge margin. He picked 11 wickets in the game.

Now let’s move towards the ODIs.

It was a year of drastic changes for Sri Lanka in the white-ball arena. They took up the youth strategy midway through the year dropping several seniors included the previous skipper Dimuth Karunaratne.

Having played 15 one-dayers in the year 2021, Sri Lanka only managed to win 4 out of them. It includes the spirited 97-run win over Bangladesh in Dhaka and 3 other wins that came at home against South Africa and India.

Batting has been a spot of bother for Sri Lanka throughout the year in ODIs. It is only made evident when one finds out that the highest scorer in ODIs for Sri Lanka is Wanindu Hasaranga who has managed to make 356 runs, batting at numbers 6, 7 and 8 in almost all the games.

Behind him are Charith Asalanka, Avishka Fernando and Dhananjaya de Silva with just over 300 runs.

Kusal Perera’s 120 on a tough Dhaka wicket is what we have chosen as the knock of the year in ODIs for Sri Lanka in 2021. Leading the team, KJP got Sri Lanka to a formidable score of 286 runs in that game with a heady century.

On the other hand, bowling has been of the utmost quality from Sri Lanka. Especially from Dushmantha Chameera and Wanindu Hasaranga.

Chameera who stepped into 2021 with a newfound moral from the LPL 2020, terrorised almost all the openers who he bowled against with agonizing pace and impeccable discipline. He ended up as the highest wicket-taker of the year 2021 in ODIs by picking 20 wickets in his 13 outings.

Wanindu Hasaranga who led the spin department for Sri Lanka picked up 12 wickets.

Chameera’s fifer in the same game in which KJP scored his century in Bangladesh is going to be the spell of the year in ODIs for Sri Lanka. It was also the only fifer in ODIs picked up by a Sri Lankan in ODIs and it also earned him the man of the match title.

2021 was a mega year for T20 cricket, thanks to the ICC Men’s T20 World. Sri Lanka played a total of 20 T20Is in 2021 and won 8 out of it. Interestingly, 5 out of those wins came in the world cup making Sri Lanka one of the tough contestants in the tournament.

Batting was once again not the strongest suit for Sri Lanka in the shortest format too. The highest run-scorer for Sri Lanka was Pathum Nissanka who made 302 runs at a healthy average of 27.45.

In the T20I knock of the year, we’ve got Charith Asalanka’s fighting 80 not-out against Bangladesh in the ICC T20 World Cup. Asalanka walked in at 1 for 2 in the first over and made sure Sri Lanka got over the line while Sri Lanka kept losing wickets on the other end.

Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva. Sri Lanka owes a great deal of their success to this man who ended at the top of the world in T20 bowling. World’s number 1 T20I bowler and also the highest wicket-taker of the year 2021. He picked 36 wickets in 20 games at an astonishing average of 11.63 and an economy rate of 5.44.

These are unbelievable numbers in T20 cricket.

The right-arm leggie picked up 4 wickets for just 9 runs in the 3rd T20I of India’s tour of Sri Lanka to help Sri Lanka win the game and the series against the mighty Indians. That is what we chose as the spell of the year in T20Is.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka also managed to stage the second edition of the Lanka Premier League which was won by the Jaffna Kings.