Hindustan Times (Lucknow)

Beleaguere­d Lanka missing Malinga tricks

- Firoz Mirza ■ sportsdesk@hindustant­imes.com

While dominant India will be looking to seal the series in Hyderabad on Sunday with another clinical win, their opponents Sri Lanka would have a lot to ponder over in the next day to avoid the ignominy.

Sri Lanka, pulled out of preseason training and requested to fill-in after West Indies abruptly called off their India tour, have been outplayed in every department in the first two matches. Only a win in the third can salvage pride and keep the series alive.

The Sri Lanka batting has looked fragile and their fielders have appeared lethargic on the field. But it’s their toothless bowling which has cost them the most.

In the first ODI in Cuttack, openers Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane piled on the misery to help post a mammoth total of 363, they cruised to victory in Ahmedabad, overhaulin­g the target of 275 with more than five overs to spare.

The islanders used all bowling options in the first two matches but failed miserably to contain rampaging Indian batsmen. Although conditions are not too different from their home venues, Sri Lanka have often struggle to compete in India. ABSENCE OF STARS

“We tried all the bowlers and I couldn’t get any wicket,” rued skipper Angelo Mathews after the six-wicket loss in Ahmedabad. He lamented the absence of senior pros like Lasith Malinga and left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, but it can hardly help the team’s confidence with the World Cup three months away.

While it was India’s pace triumvirat­e of Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma and Varun Aaron that dismantled Sri Lanka in the first match, spinners R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel shared the spoils in the next.

On the contrary, Sri Lanka bowlers looked rusty with almost every bowler conceding more than run-a-ball.

Only Suraj Randiv and Seekkuge Prasanna have been among wickets but they too failed to choke the flow of runs on batting pitches.

Pacers Dhammika Prasad and Lahiru Gamage looked clueless and it was collective failure which forced Mathews to open the bowling with the latter in the second match.

No doubt the World Twenty20 champions are missing Malinga but over dependence on an individual could hurt their chances in the World Cup.

The absence of Malinga and Herath was seen providing an opportunit­y for the fringe players to stake their claim for the World Cup. But going by their show in the first two matches, none of them seem deserving of a place in the squad.

 ?? K PATIL / HT ?? After an early wicket from Dhammika Prasad, Sri Lanka bowlers struggled.
K PATIL / HT After an early wicket from Dhammika Prasad, Sri Lanka bowlers struggled.

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