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Will the one-day series end Dilshan’s reign?

The question for which sports fans, especially cricket fans are seeking answers is: will skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan continue to sport his captaincy band or will he be asked to step aside after the South African tour?

The selectors captained by former Sri Lankan dazzler Duleep Mendis appointed Dilshan for the tour of South Africa. The tour was probably the best that Dilshan has enjoyed since taking over the reigns of captaincy which before then saw a rapid decline in our form and fortunes. His previous three outings as captain against England, Australia and Pakistan, all ended in series defeats, which cast a dark cloud.

Sri Lanka lost the series 2-1 against South Africa. But, the consolation prize was leading the country to its first ever victory against South Africa in South Africa.

Next two bashes

At the time of writing Sri Lanka’s next two bashes will be the ‘cowboy’ series- the 50 overs - against South Africa and later a Commonwealth Bank tri-series which features World Champions India and Australia in Australia.

Will the one-day series in South Africa be Dilshan’s Waterloo? A little bird whispers that should Sri Lanka win the series in Protealand, he will continue in the saddle. A whitewash could call finis’ to his reign. So as a fighter with courage Dilshan can be expected to prepare himself to lead by example and from the front. This he will seek to accomplish, hopefully, by batting gallantly for the team and going for big scores and giving the rest of the batsmen the platform to build on.

Wretched run

What has unsettled Dilshan is his wretched run with the bat. When he began to fail as an opener, some bright spark planted the seeds of uncertainty by forcing him to bat in the middle. He did just that without success and now he is between two worlds. Open the batting or batting in the middle?

Uncertainty has led to the downfall of many a cricketer and led to the cricketer’s ousting from the game. If this calamity befalls Dilshan it will be sad, considering that he has been a dashing opening batsman and brilliant fielder for the country. Another malady that afflicts many losing captains is the ugly aspect of finding excuses. A standard excuse is finding solace in ‘Ifs’ and ‘Buts’. A match has to be won, lost or drawn. A humble captain will always give credit to the winning team for playing the better cricket that saw them to victory. ‘Ifs’ and ‘buts’ like being wise after the event, is the refuge of a “loser”.

Press briefing

After the match press briefing, Dilshan is on record saying that had Chanaka Welegedera attempted a catch off double century maker Jacques Kallis when he was on two in the final Test at Newslands been taken, the story could have been different.

On the other side of the coin, the South African skipper Graeme Smith could have lamented that had Kumar Sangakkara, who scored a century in the Durban Test, been held when he was on two, the story too could have been different!

So it’s time to lose gratefully and be magnanimous in victory, rather than prefer weak and speculative excuses. Excuses however good are unacceptable once in the big league. Dilshan is also reported to have said that the domestic cricketing structure is weak. This is old hat and not something that should cloud one’s mind when the focus should be to garner the full energies of the team one has to put up a decent showing.

Gut feeling

The gut feeling is that if Dilshan fails to win the one-day series in South Africa the selectors will have no other alternative but to shop for another captain. It is not idle speculation that former captain Mahela Jayawardena who had a good run as captain, taking us to the World Cup final in the Caribbean in 2007, will be invited to take on the lead again. Jayawardena, although he could not make good with the bat on the tour of South Africa, is still one of the best with the willow in the world. His present failings are just a hiccup. All great batsmen have had a dip in batting form. Jayawardena one can rest assured will swing back into action before long.

Indians in poor form

If Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s cricketing Indians lose the Third Test to Australia which began at the West Australian Cricket Association Ground (WACA) in Perth is lost and with it the series 3-0 in a Four-Test series, then several of their cricketers will have to contend with the wrath of their rowdy local fans who would not tolerate such defeat. After the four-nil series pummelling by England, in England, and if they were to suffer humiliation at the hands of the Australians, then it will be a calamity of hispotic proportions. In the Two Tests played, Australia has outplayed the Indians. When the Indians arrived in, Australians expectations were high. But sadly they have crumbled under the intense pressure exerted on them and now find themselves in losing land.

If they surrender in the Third Test, wholesale changes will be made to the future squad. We would not hazard too many guesses, but top of the chopping list will be captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni himself.

Cry for changes

The cry has began in India for changes to be made; for the old to make way for the young emerging players; and for better leaders to take over and lead Indian cricket to winning ways. India does not lack for want of talent. And the selectors will not be faulted if they bring in the long overdue changes. The old hands have served faithfully and now it is time for them to take a bow.

Of interest to the Indian fans will be Sachin Tendulkar. Will he achieve that mother of all hundreds – the 100th hundred in Cricket?

He is under terrific pressure walking in, shown by the big hand he gets by his adoring fans, when he puts bat to ball. Will this be the Test match he has been waiting for?

Posted on 2012-01-16 22:54:11
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Nov 23
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QUESTION?

Should Dilshan have continued until Cricket World Cup 2019?

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THE DAY'S QUOTE

“That was pathetic. No excuse at all. The whole team is responsible. Whoever the captain is, we have to back him and try and support him. The captain has to do so many other stuff. All the 11 guys must back him and support him.” “We have addressed the issue of finishing off the overs on time in the past as well, but it cropped up again. It’s so unfortunate to see Upul going out as he is a crucial player in our set up. He batted well against South Africa and it’s so unfortunate. This can’t happen again,” - Angelo Mathews

FEEDBACK/COMMENTS

Cricket is a game of fine margins and Mathews is set to be a modern great. Hang in their Angie, this team can achieve something on this tour. Thirimane and the youngsters form was a real positive. Prasad was missed. Chameera should be persisted with. If Bairstow was our early outcome could have been very different.

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