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Sri Lanka v West Indies

After all the turmoil, Sri Lanka may have found light at the end of the tunnel

Sri Lanka posted a commanding 2-0 series victory against the West Indies
by Shashwat Kumar 3 minute read

Sri Lanka were put under pressure at various stages during their Test series against the West Indies. Yet, they found different heroes at each juncture to secure a 2-0 series win.

However, that hasn’t been a theme Sri Lankan cricket has been synonymous with in the past couple of years. Barring a promising 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup campaign, where they defied the odds to finish sixth, Sri Lanka have seemed to be on a slippery slope – a slope that has often descended into doom.

When the Islanders visited the United Kingdom earlier this, they seemed on a downward spiral. On most occasions, they were finding new ways to implode. At other times, their players were busy flouting bio-bubble regulations. To put it simply, Sri Lanka were a team in turmoil.


A series against a second-string Indian side followed. They were playing that rubber at home and with the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli missing for India. The fact that Sri Lanka were still dubbed underdogs tells you the state of Sri Lankan cricket.

Nonetheless, Sri Lanka began to stumble upon a formula – a formula that wasn’t as flamboyant as years gone by but was effective enough to establish a foothold. They lost the ODI series but defeated a COVID-19-stricken Indian outfit in the shortest format. But when considering the obstacles India had to overcome, the outcome was taken with a pinch of salt. Weeks later, those perceptions were vindicated as they were humbled at home against South Africa.

Then, the T20 World Cup came along. To Sri Lanka’s delight, it became the first step on the path of redemption they wanted to tread. They gave an excellent account of themselves throughout. They stood toe-to-toe with the established order after advanicng to the Super 12 stage, and while there were defeats to Australia, England and South Africa, they more than held their own. There were glimpses that Sri Lanka knew where they wanted to get, although they weren’t there yet.

Thus, the assignment against West Indies assumed massive importance. Not just because they wanted to build on an encouraging T20 World Cup run. But also because Sri Lanka needed to defeat the Caribbean outfit if they harboured any aspirations of making a fist of the ICC World Test Championship.

Sri Lanka weren’t spotless by any means. Yet they showed enough gumption for a fight and the requisite cricketing ability to emerge victorious. In the first Test, their captain Dimuth Karunaratne stood up. He stitched together an excellent ton in the first innings before producing another half-century in the second essay – proving that he remains one of the premier Test openers in the world.

Dinesh Chandimal, long touted for greatness but still rummaging for consistency, also popped up with a crucial knock. More importantly, he illustrated the kind of maturity that hasn’t always been a part of his game.

A match later, Dhananjaya de Silva – another cricketer who has flattered to deceive – turned into their guardian angel. He not only rescued Sri Lanka from a perilous position in the second innings, he powered the Islanders to a total that was way beyond the West Indians’ reach.

The biggest positive, though, was the way Sri Lanka bowled throughout the series. Their spinners, in particular, were irresistible throughout. Lasith Embuldeniya and Ramesh Mendis got the ball to turn prodigiously – and that made the straight ball all the more deadly. They proved that while a spinning ball is dangerous, the illusion of spin is perhaps deadlier.

To an extent, Embuldeniya and Mendis rekindled the sort of partnership Dilruwan Perera and Rangana Herath had once forged. It is too easy to get carried away by the spin twins’ performance in just a solitary series. But the resemblances are too uncanny to not pay heed to. As things stand, Embuldeniya averages a tick over 33, having taken 62 wickets in 13 matches. Mendis, meanwhile, has only played four games and has scalped 26 wickets at an average of 21.53. Additionally, the Islanders seem to have put together a good battery of fast bowlers. Dushmantha Chameera, Lahiru Kumara and Suranga Lakmal can be a handful on seaming pitches and have enhanced their bowling on drabber surfaces as well.

Having said that, sterner tests await for Sri Lanka. Their next Test series is against India (away from home). They also have to contend with Mickey Arthur’s departure – a coach who taught Sri Lanka to dream again and was pivotal as several youngsters found their feet in international cricket.

However, they seem as well-equipped as they have done in the past two years. It might not be much but after everything that has happened in Sri Lankan cricket, it is quite a lot.

Till a few months ago, Sri Lanka seemed afraid of their own shadow. They were finding ways to lose games from winning positions and they were self-destructing at every possible juncture. They were woeful. Now, they are salvaging seemingly irredeemable situations, no longer imploding and don’t seem to be fearing any opposition. Maybe they aren’t a team in turmoil, after all.

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