Test cricket is the pinnacle of the game. To be successful in Test cricket a team needs to sustain the pressure until the final ball. In recent times the national cricket team has struggled for consistency in the longest format. Leading in to the Test series in the Caribbean, their form in the format has [...]

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A stalemate Test series with many pros

Sobers-Tissera Trophy 2021
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Pathum Nissanka - a talent to rely

Test cricket is the pinnacle of the game. To be successful in Test cricket a team needs to sustain the pressure until the final ball. In recent times the national cricket team has struggled for consistency in the longest format.

Leading in to the Test series in the Caribbean, their form in the format has been dismal after they had been whitewashed by South Africa and England comprehensively. So the pressure was mounting on Dimuth Karunaratne and his men to prove that they are capable to be competitive against Kraigg Brathwaite’s brigade.

When the Lankan Lions were bundled out for 169 on the first day, cricket experts were anticipating another whitewash for the depleted Lankans, who didn’t have the services of some senior batsmen including former captain Angelo Mathews, who opted out from the tour due to a personal reason.

Analysing Sri Lanka’s performances in the recent past, it is clearly observed that they take time to acclimatise to the conditions and they have also struggled to adjust their game plans according to the format. As a consequence, they have struggled to be competitive against formidable oppositions.

This series was played between two teams, who were fighting out to be completive at Test level and both teams wanted to test out some youngsters to get a glimpse of the future. Especially the hosts had a relatively inexperienced squad for the Test series. Despite being inexperienced they had fond memories of beating Bangladesh in the Asian subcontinent.

In the recent past, Sri Lanka has been changing Dimuth Karunaratne’s opening partner frequently due to inconsistency. They seem to have found the perfect foil for the captain with the emergence of Lahiru Thirimanne, whom Sri Lanka has been wanting him to perform at Test level consistently. In the last seven innings, as an opener, he scored 407 runs at an average of 58.14 with one century and three half centuries.

Captain Karunaratne has been a consistent performer for Sri Lanka but he had a rare failure in this series scoring just 91 runs at an average of 22.75 and the other major concern is the lack of consistency of Dinesh Chandimal, who is considered as one of the most experienced batsmen in the current squad. He failed significantly in the Caribbean.

On a positive note, youngsters Oshanda Fernando and 22-year-old Pathum Nissanka, who became the fourth Sri Lankan to score a century in the debut Test, were consistent run-getters for Sri Lanka. It has been heartening to see the performance of the youngsters at a time when the national team is seeking for consistency.

Wicket-keeper batsman Niroshan Dickwella, who was omitted from the ODI squad, proved his worth at the Test level as he scored 148 runs at an average of 49.33. It seemed as he wanted to show his versatility. He played in accordance to the situation and ensured that he didn’t throw his wicket away, taking responsibility as a senior player.

One major positive remark for the tourists has been the performances of their fast bowlers, led by Suranga Lakmal (11wickets at an average of 21.45 with a five-wicket haul). He bowled his heart out on the placid pitches at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium. For his consistency with the ball, he was rewarded as the Player of the Series. Along with Lakmal, Dusmantha Chameera and Vishva Fernando bowled with pace and accuracy.

West Indian legends Ian Bishop, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh praised the performance of the Lankan bowlers and they also felt that this is a promising sign for Sri Lanka in the future.

It is fair to say that the standards in the field has been below the required standards as both teams dropped catches at crucial times. Brathwaite, who was the leading run scorer in the series, was dropped several times which proved costly for the Lankans.

This series can be considered as one where the skill and the grit of two evenly contested teams showed that their ability to be competitive at the Test level. Both teams will have to improve their fielding standards if they want to compete at any form of cricket.

After a string of losses Mickey Arthur and his team will be relieved and they will hope that, this series will give them the confidence to move forward with more challenging tours on the horizon.

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