Sri Lanka miss a golden opportunity to give Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene a memorable ODI farewell as 1996 champions are demolished by South Africa in quarter-final
Sydney: Sri Lanka will not have an opportunity to give a proper send-off to two of their greatest batsmen, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, as they crashed out miserably from the 2015 ICC World Cup. Sri Lanka, always given credit for playing smart cricket, zombie-walked through their quarter-final clash against perennial
underachievers at World Cups, South Africa.
Kumar Sangakkara acknowledges the crowd after his final ODI appearance at the SCG yesterday. Pic/AFP
In first of many perplexing moves, Kusal Perera replaced Lahiru Thirimanne, who has been in form at the top of the order, and found the going tough against the pace and swing from Dale Steyn and Kyle Abbott. In an act of mercy, Abbott induced an edge from the struggling Kusal and in walked the batsman of the tournament Kumar Sangakkara.
What followed then was the most bizarre stretch of the innings where Sangakkara lumbered and lurched from one dot ball to another, and soon the Sri Lankan batting had seized up. Kumar took 16 deliveries to score his first run and was pottering around on five off 28, and 17 off 55.
Sangakkara tried to explain his uncharacteristic innings: "I was just trying to see that new ball off. (South Africa) were pushing for wickets. And once they had two, they were pushing to get three, maybe four wickets. Morne (Morkel) was bowling pretty quickly, bowled some good lengths, and our job was just to hold on."
Rebuilding SL innings
Although in the modern one-day game, teams have been scoring heavily in the last 18-20 overs, they do first need a platform as well to launch from. "The run rate in this format of the game now with the new rules, you can always catch up," said Sangakkara. Sure, he was trying to rebuild the innings and hence was slow, but at a strike rate less than 33? Inexplicably bizarre.
He further explained the slow-go approach of his with the reason that they were a batsman short yesterday. "We were playing with six batsmen today, and it was just a case of building partnerships, but every time we tried to get something going, there was a wicket falling, and the disappointing thing was that we gave seven wickets to spin when they were a pace-dominant attack."
In trying to prevent wickets by Steyn and Co., Sri Lanka gifted Imran Tahir and part-time off spin of JP Duminy seven wickets. In trying to rebuild, they only dug themselves deeper. In the end, they frustrated themselves and lobbed simple catches to gleeful fielders.
The crushing defeat in the quarter-final against South Africa yesterday made it difficult for Mahela Jayawardene to say goodbye to ODI cricket.
"It is tough to leave international cricket on a day like this," Jayawardene, 37, admitted.
"I will have time to look back through my career and maybe in a few months' time it will be nice to look back at the memories. But it is disappointing to finish off like this," he said.