Sri Lanka will target a more attacking approach in white-ball cricket, Head Coach Mickey Arthur said, beginning with the first One Day International against the West Indies at the SSC Grounds in Colombo tomorrow (22).
Arthur today said the hosts were leaning towards playing two wrist-spinners, in Wanindu Hasaranga and Lakshan Sandakan, a combination which could become a staple of Sri Lanka’s one day teams moving forward.
“Sandakan obviously has been there a lot longer but Wanindu is a fantastic cricketer and the control of his length has been amazing. I’ve marveled at how he's gone about his business, and then coupled with his batting ability at the back end and his fielding – he’s made a real name for himself. The key is playing both of them together as genuine wicket taking options through the middle and that’s what wins you white ball cricket games,” Arthur said.
“We want to play that brand of cricket. We're looking to take wickets and I think that’s the future for this team. In terms of our preparation that has been the message around (being) attacking. We don’t want to play this defensive cricket anymore and that will be reflected in our selection. And if the two wrist spinners can do the job for us that will be fantastic, because they will take wickets.”
All rounder Thisara Perera is in line to return to the ODI team, ahead of Dasun Shanaka, on the merit of his bowling, with Shehan Jayasuriya and Niroshan Dickwella not making the 12-man squad for the match.
“I think the key around that number 7 position is that Dasun shades the batting and (Thisara) shades the bowling. So if we go with the extra spinner we're going to need an extra fast bowler and that probably gives (Thisara) the nod for tomorrow,” Arthur explained.
With a slightly less skilled batsman at number seven, Arthur was clear on what roles had been given to the top six batsmen.
“With our batting, there is a license at the top of the order, so you've got Avishka (Fernando) and KJP (Kusal Janith Perera) who are dynamic players. KJP will bat at three; Avishka will open with Dimuth (Karunaratne). They will have a bit of a license to get us through the power-play and then four, five and six, we have (Kusal) Mendis, (Angelo) Mathews and Dhananjaya de Silva. Those are the guys we want to control that overs 11 to 40, and then hopefully have the likes of Thisara and Wanindu to finish. That’s how we want to go (forward),” Arthur stressed.
Arthur was also impressed with the improvement in the fielding standards since Sri Lanka’s last tour, saying players had bought into what was expected of them.
“(The fielding is) Much improved. There is still a long way to go but I was watching us go through our fielding yesterday (Thursday) and it has improved massively. That’s testimony to the players and their attitudes towards their fielding and they have bought into where we want to go, and the coaching from Shane McDermott has been brilliant. There has been a massive improvement from where we were when we went to India,” Arthur said.
Windies skipper Kieron Pollard, meanwhile, said while there was some question over the availability of batsman Nicolas Pooran, the performances of his team in India had given them a blueprint of how they wanted to approach their cricket.
“We took it in stride and I think that was blue print for us going forward. Being the number nine ranked team and pushing the number one ranked team, sometimes you think about what your ranking points actually mean. The way you want to play cricket and the consistency of what you want to do and how badly you want success, and I though the strength and the mettle the guys showed in India gave us that blueprint on how we want to play cricket against whichever team we come up against,” Pollard said.
Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne – Captain, Avishka Fernando, Kusal Janith Perera, Shehan Jayasuriya, Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya De Silva, Thisara Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lakshan Sandakan, Isuru Udana, Nuwan Pradeep, Lahiru Kumara
West Indies: Kieron Pollard (captain), Shai Hope (vice-captain), Fabian Allen, Sunil Ambris, Darren Bravo, Roston Chase, Sheldon Cottrell, Jason Holder, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Keemo Paul, Nicholas Pooran, Rovman Powell, Romario Shepherd, Hayden Walsh.