Sri Lanka take on Namibia today: Mahela, Brain Behind Playing Avishka at 4 – Arthur
By Anjana Kaluarachchi reporting from Abu Dhabi
Sri Lanka looked like they weren’t even going to get through qualifiers with some bad losses against South Africa at home, but following the Oman leg where Avishka Fernando started playing at number four, the team took on a different look, as he scored three half centuries and anchored Sri Lanka’s batting line up in all four victories. Ahead of their first T20 World Cup qualifier game today in Abu Dhabi, Coach Arthur revealed that it was their mentor Mahela Jayawardene who is the brain behind the decision to play him at four, which changed the outlook of the earlier fragile batting line up of Sri Lanka.
“We had a bit of a brainstorming session and Mahela came up with a plan. He had us look at some stats which he sent on to Dasun and myself, and looking at those stats it was pretty clear that number four is a good fit for Avishka in terms of the brand of cricket we wanted to play. Got that sorted and Avishka will bat at four tomorrow definitely. We got a plan for number three and we made a decision today (regarding number 3). Let’s hope that will work well too,” said Arthur before their floodlight practice session in Abu Dhabi yesterday.
“Once Avishka gets in, after about 15 balls he strikes about 160. So when he comes at number four generally the field is back which allows him to rotate the strike and get into his stride. Once he gets in, he is almost unstoppable. That was the thinking behind it and we tried it, and it worked. Let’s hope it will continue to work,” added Arthur. Meanwhile, skipper Dasun Shanaka said that they are a settled unit with yesterday’s decision about number three position, where Dinesh Chandimal will play ahead of another option Charith Asalanka.
Kusal Perera and Pathum Nissanka will open the innings with Chandimal and Fernando playing at number three and four followed by Bhanuka Rajapaksa at five. Shanaka will come at six followed by Wanindu Hasaranga and Chamika Karunarathne who could be promoted depending on the situation.
Bowling will be spearheaded by Dushmantha Chameera, while Lahiru Kumara too will be in the playing XI as the Abu Dhabi wicket seems pace friendly with quite a bit of grass in the middle. Finger spinner Maheesh Theekshana will play as second spinner in the lineup. Meanwhile, experienced Namibian skipper Gerhard Erasmus said that being a Test Nation the pressure is on Sri Lanka to qualify, and having an underdog tag really frees them to play better cricket .
SL Team (Probable): 1. Kusal Perera, 2. Pethum Nissanka, 3. Dinesh Chandimal, 4. Avishka Fernando, 5. Bhanuka Rajapaksa, 6. Dasun Shanaka (C), 7. Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva, 8. Chamika Karunarathne, 9. Maheesh Theekshana , 10. Dushmantha Chameera ,11. Lahiru Kumara