At the end of the 38th over of Sri Lanka’s innings, they were 221 for 4, with Kusal Mendis on 92 and Dhananjaya de Silva on 14.
From this vantage point, it is not uncommon for teams to shoot well above 300. Or, at the very least, are anticipated to.
As a point of reference, in Bangladesh’s encounter against the same opponent on Sunday, which took place at the same venue, they had 222 for 2 on the board after 38 overs, and they went on to record 334 for 5 when they finished their innings.
Naturally, given that they were up by eight wickets in the game, they had more batting resources available to deploy.
There are still 72 balls remaining, and your hitters are about to come in. This is the point at which the top teams switch into their batting bully mode, and show those poor bowlers who the boss is.
From this position, the most effective one-day international finishers will take down the opposing quicks, devour the spinners’ sandwiches in front of them, and hurl their lunchboxes into the trees so that they can never be retrieved.
As the creators of one-day international cricket intended, they send bowlers home with tears in their eyes and a level of anguish that will take years to recover from. (Since these are the same gods that removed the ability to reverse swing from the game around 10 years ago, we are able to determine which camp these gods are on.)
However, Sri Lanka hasn’t had any decent bullies as of late. Their performance at the highest level has been satisfactory. Charith Asalanka is a reliable No. 5 batter, as seen by his 46.68 batting average and 91.10 strike rate when batting in that position.
However, here is when all of the issues begin. Dhananjaya de Silva is now batting at position No. 6, and despite all of his success in test matches, he has a current ODI batting average of 26.04 and a strike rate of 74.93.
And then there is the big one: Dasun Shanaka, the skipper of Sri Lanka, averages 25.43 while batting at No. 7 and strikes out at 86.59 percent of the time.
Their batting averages are laughable when compared to those of the finest players in the world. At number six, Hardik Pandya has a batting average of 38.50 and a strike rate of 102.52.
At the sixth spot, David Miller had a 39.51 average and a 104.73 strikeout percentage. The numbers 36.00 and 109.85 are those that correlate to Jos Buttler’s position at number 6.
These are not your run-of-the-mill thugs; they will kill you. The sort of people you worry will sneak up behind you and force you to urinate while you’re not looking.
In spite of this, Shanaka and de Silva both make contributions with the ball. During the encounter against Afghanistan, it was de Silva who brought an end to the game.
However, Afghanistan’s own ignorance of the fact that they might have topped Sri Lanka’s net run rate even until the first ball of the 39th over was a significant factor in his success.
Shanaka took the wicket of Towhid Hridoy in Sri Lanka’s most recent match, and all in all, he has taken wickets in six of Sri Lanka’s most recent eight matches, despite the fact that he has not taken more than one wicket in any game during that stretch, and despite the fact that many of those matches were in the World Cup Qualifier against weaker oppositions.
Shanaka, on the other hand, suffers from a particularly evident deficiency with the bat, as seen by his dismal stats while facing legspinners.
His overall batting average in one-day internationals is 23.38, and his strike rate is 93.14, but when he faces legbreak bowlers, his average drops to 12.06, and his strike rate drops to 82.27. It should come as no surprise that he lost against Rashid Khan in this match.
But before he was out himself – bowled for 5 by a quick legbreak that he had tried to sweep – he also contributed to the removal of Kusal Mendis, which occurred earlier in that Rashid over. He did this by contributing to the fact that Rashid delivered a fast legbreak.
Shanaka had hit the ball back at the bowler in the air, but the bowler had lost the catch. However, the ball had deflected into the non-striker’s stumps before Mendis could bring his bat back into the crease.
The fact that these players have usefulness beyond their stats is one of the factors that makes the selection process difficult for Sri Lanka.
Shanaka is a well-liked leader, not just among his teammates but also among the spectators. While he isn’t perfect from a tactical standpoint, he has helped Sri Lanka’s one-day international results improve significantly.
Even though several of the victories came in the Qualifier, the squad has now won 12 consecutive One-Day Internationals (ODIs).
They have a record of 21 wins and only 13 losses during his leadership. Before he assumed control of the team, they had a record of 14 wins and 29 losses in one-day internationals (ODIs). Under Shanaka’s leadership, the T20 International team even won the Asia Cup in that format.
However, in order for Sri Lanka to become genuine contenders both at the business end of this Asia Cup and in the World Cup that will follow, they need to have more consistent firepower at the Nos. 6 and 7 positions in their batting order.
Shanaka would also find it lot easier to sleep at night as captain if he could dominate death bowlers on a far more consistent basis than he has in one-day internationals up to this point.