ICC T20 World Cup: We are Ready for Any Opposition – Vaas

BY ANJANA KALUARACHCHI IN SHARJAH | Published: 2:00 AM Oct 23 2021
Sports ICC T20 World Cup: We are Ready for Any Opposition – Vaas

BY ANJANA KALUARACHCHI IN SHARJAH 

Sri Lanka’s bowling attack looked fragile and many fans were praying for the return of Lasith Malinga (even at the age of 38) for the World Cup. Coming into the World Cup, however, Sri Lankan bowlers left their opposition bamboozled with sheer pace, and it’s almost like Sri Lanka has got the best bowling unit so far with three bowlers bowling over 140 kmph and two of them consistently bowling over 145 kmph, something which hasn’t been seen in the history of Sri Lanka Cricket, and rarer still in international cricket. 

Chaminda Vaas, the World Cup winning pace spearhead who is now in charge of fast bowlers, shares his insight into how the pace units were transformed into lethal attacking weapons, which is now on display in UAE. “What we have not seen is two guys bowling at 140kmph from either side. Right now, we have two guys bowling at 145kmph from both sides (which is) great to see. I am looking forward to seeing how they fare in Test cricket. 

We will have a good opportunity moving forward,” said Vaas. “The advantage we have is that we have played qualifiers and got a lot of experience and momentum behind us. That’s the greatest thing. And now we are ready to play any opposition,” added Vaas. Dushmantha Chameera was already going well, but it was the inclusion of Lahiru Kumara which suddenly transformed the SL bowling unit to an attack of terror. Though Kumara is not swinging the ball he has developed a good yorker, a slower ball and a short ball, which made life hard for batters. 

“Lahiru Kumara was in the pool but wasn’t in the squad of 15. We have been doing a lot of work with him trying to develop his skill. He was desperate to get a few things right. Particularly his stats in T-20 cricket were not good enough for his immense talent. To his credit, he put in the hard yards. Did a lot of work with our trainer Dilshan (Fonseka). I guess those things have stood in good stead during the tournament,” said Vaas. Vaas described how he changed little things in Lahiru Kumara’s game to turn him into a better cricketer. 

“Few changes on run-up and wrist position. Especially he trained a lot bowling yorkers. Just kept a cone and tried hitting that. He’s been terrific to be honest. The more you do this stuff as a fast bowler you keep improving. Glad to see Lahiru having that desire to get his act together and the results are there for everyone to see. Happy for him,” said Vaas. Vaas said that going with the extra pace was always planned in round one. “That was the plan. We know these teams play medium pace bowlers most of the time. So, once you have extra pace it can be quite handy. 

What I am most impressed is not just the pace, but the control they are showing with the pace. The accuracy has been spot on and I wish they keep doing it moving forward,” said Vaas. Vaas also credited Dushmantha Chameera for his terrific improvement, where he has developed skills including an out swinger, yorker, short ball and slow ball, which led coach Mickey Arthur to describe Chameera as truly world class. “Very pleased. Dushmantha Chameera has been terrific in the last eight months. 

He has learned the art of swinging in the ball, and when you do that with his pace that can be quite handy. He is another guy who works hard on his bowling. You have got to give him credit. He wants to do well for the team and keep improving,” said Vaas. Despite having Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara - both of whom could bowl at 150kmph - it’s Chamika Karunarathne who has been given the responsibility of opening the bowling. He has been consistently bowling over 130kmph, but did hit over 140kmph in the last match. 

Chamika also has the ability to swing both ways. “Chamika can bowl 140kmph and can bowl at any point of the game. He tries to swing the ball. We used him early because one side of the Abu Dhabi ground is smaller. When you give him the first over, you can make the best out of Dushmantha and Lahiru. We can keep them for the middle overs and the death overs, which is vital. That’s the thinking behind it. 

When we want a wicket, we try to bring in the extra pace of Lahiru and Dushmantha,” said Vaas. Vaas who had a long career was injured only once, which was in 1998. In contrast modern day SL pacemen are injury prone, but with guys like Chameera going well, Vaas credited trainer Dilshan Fonseka for the work he put in. “All the fast bowlers train hard. We have a brilliant trainer - Sri Lankan Dilshan (Fonseka). He gets the best out of players and hardly gives them a rest. The Head Coach has managed them well too. 

So hopefully we will move forward in the right direction,” said Vaas. Meanwhile, he credits former teammate and Captain Mahela Jayawardene (MJ) for changes he introduced to the team. “I must say that with the presence of MJ a lot of good things have happened. He is a brilliant coach and one of the leading coaches in the world. He has been a great captain of Sri Lanka as well, and we all know that. MJ’s idea was to use Wanindu as a floating player. So, we took a chance and it paid off,” said Vaas.

BY ANJANA KALUARACHCHI IN SHARJAH | Published: 2:00 AM Oct 23 2021

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