Mendis' pragmatism helps injured Sri Lanka survive early banana peel

Mendis’ pragmatism helps injured Sri Lanka survive early banana peel

As for banana peels, Sri Lanka ended up on a big one, which in turn was placed on an oily surface. Playing the first round of the T20 World Cup 2022, after becoming Asian Cup champions they struggled to adapt to a slow, two paced Geelong pitch and ended up paying for it with a defeat against Namibia. Add to that a soft outfield that can leave you vulnerable to injury.

Maheesh Theekshana believes the risk of injury is high on this pitch. “Even when we bat, we can see the ball is not going all the way; the ball stops early,” he said. “There’s a lot of tension on the body. That’s why there are more injuries.”

Then, the day after their loss to Namibia, Sri Lanka saw forecasts of rain on Thursday, the final day of the first round, which left them even more anxious. And these are not conditions in which you can blow up an opposition. You need to swallow your pride a bit.

Sri Lanka have fallen back on conservative, unsexy cricket to get back on their feet. Their first victory against the UAE, centered on Nissanka’s 74 with a strike rate of 123.33. In their next game, Kusal Mendis ran a ball for his first 17 balls against Netherlands. Exactly what you are taught not to do in T20 cricket. But they knew they couldn’t bend the conditions to their will.

“When we saw the pitch, I didn’t think it would be so slow in the morning,” Mendis said. “It’s very slow and the spinners spun the ball. You can’t get back to your normal game. Even if you jump out of the crease, it’s a bit slow. So we had to beat normally for 10 or 12 overs. Because we did that, we were able to score a lot in the last five.

“[It’s] a little different here. In Australia, you expect bounce and pace. Here you have to play your normal game in the first six overs. Then we can hit in the last ten overs. In the first game, we struggled. The counter was slow. We did not know how to play on this field. Game two and game three, I knew how to play here.”

Often in T20s, not taking risks is the risk. Mendis was willing to take that risk. The ground was perhaps a little better than in the first two matches. Once he realized that the slower ones didn’t grab as much, Mendis played with the dimensions of the floor: short square boundaries and a long floor shot.

Mendis managed to hit 23 balls from the fine leg to the center wicket, earning him 62 of his 79 runs, including all five sixes. This indicates a few loose balls, especially since some of the slower ones did not stick. But it also indicates ruthless execution and an increase in ambition as it goes.

Sri Lanka didn’t quite avoid the banana peel but managed to rise again. It was expensive, but we don’t have time to heal their wounds. They will need to regroup quickly, adapt to real Australian tracks and continue to find answers and replacements as they go.

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