Sri Lanka’s cricketing heroes rewarded with US$ 145,000
Pressure on places for players who refused to go to Pakistan
Sri Lanka T20I captain Dasun Shanaka presents the trophy for winning the T20I series against Pakistan to Sri Lanka Cricket president Shammi Silva in the presence of interim head coach Rumesh Ratnayake, SLC secretary Mohan de Silva, ODI captain Lahiru Thir
Sri Lanka’s young cricketing heroes who brought the number one ranked T20 international team Pakistan to their knees by recording a 3-0 series whitewash will be handsomely rewarded with Sri Lanka Cricket announcing that they would be paid a total of US$ 145,000 for their outstanding performance.
Apart from earning such riches the players have also put the places of the ten players who refused to go on the grounds of security concerns in some kind of jeopardy. Chairman of selectors and manager of the team Ashantha de Mel clearly outlined what the players who stayed back have in store for them after the youngsters who replaced them came up with some outstanding batting and bowling performances on the field to outplay Pakistan who were the favourites to clinch the series.
“Earlier we had a problem of selecting now we have a competition for six places in the batting department. What I was impressed with the youngsters was when we gave them the opportunity they grabbed it with both hands,” said De Mel at a press conference held at Sri Lanka Cricket headquarters yesterday.
“Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Minod Bhanuka and Oshada Fernando they played out of their skin. We have watched these players but to come out and perform against the best T20I side in the world against a bowling line-up which is one of the strongest is something praiseworthy.
“The way Bhanuka (Rajapaksa) batted reminded me of Mahela (Jayawardene) hitting the ball over extra cover. As chief selector I was happy that I was able to give these guys a chance. Sometimes what happens is when you take them on the tour you are not able to give them a chance but on this particular instance we were able to do so. Some of them have grabbed it and given the selectors food for thought. When it comes to selecting for Australia we’ll have to take their performance into consideration.
“Like I told the guys who didn’t go if the guys who go and perform then the guys who stayed back may have to get dropped. Form matters and they are currently in form. It’s a good headache to have because we have so many players to choose from. Our bench strength has increased. If you look at the third T20I even after making five changes to the team we still won. If these boys can make winning a habit we can do well in Australia,” De Mel said.
Sri Lanka are due to tour Australia at the end of the month for a series of three T20I.
‘HASARANGA MOST IMPROVED PLAYER’
De Mel rated right-arm leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga as the most improved player he has seen this year.
“From batting, bowling and fielding the confidence that he generates is immense,” said De Mel.
Sri Lanka’s interim head coach Rumesh Ratnayake said that the performance the young cricketers took them by surprise although they were aware of the talent they possessed.
“There were 10 seniors who didn’t come along but it didn’t deter the process because we knew whom we chose had to be the next best and from day one we inculcated with the boys and told them that they were the best and that we are playing against one of the best ODI and T20I sides,” said Ratnayake.
“If you compare the names they were gigantic. We knew that we were up against a huge challenge and our advice was that we had to compete. Our first thing was to compete, each time we had certain players on the field they were upto the mark and they performed beyond our imagination and really excelled. I believe everybody took their chance when they had it and performed to the best and they were free to do so,” Ratnayake continued.
“Some of them we hadn’t even seen Bhanuka Rajapaksa was one of them. Oshada was the other we have seen him in the Test but not in the T20I format. You can say we were surprised but we knew what talent they possessed because everybody spoke of them at some stage so we knew that they possessed - a huge amount of talent and they stood up and took the challenge.”
BOWLERS TOOK UP THE CHALLENGE
Ratnayake said the most heartening thing on the tour was Mr Zakir Khan of the Pakistan team praising how well the Lankan bowlers bowled the yorkers compared to their Pakistan counterparts.
“It was hard work and smart work. We were struggling with bowling good lines and good lengths in the ODIs, but we emphasised in bowling the right ball at the right time and the boys were aware of it. We had a good series and good bowling sessions but it’s a work in progress. We have to continue and have the consistency going in the future. If you compare the two teams we came up trumps because the emphasis was so much on the bowlers and they took up the challenge and did extremely well,” Ratnayake said.
Sri Lanka’s winning T20I captain Dasun Shanaka said that he was not under any kind of pressure leading the side because he knew the capabilities of each player under him having played with and against them for a long time.
“I knew when to use them. I got a lot of support from Ashantha, Rumesh and Jerome (Jayaratne) on how to plan for the match and how to handle the game in the middle. We had a lot of discussions and it made my job easy in the middle. I was not under any pressure at any time. Even in the third T20I although we got only a moderate total I had a lot of confidence in the players. I told the team that we were playing a winning combination. Looking back I think we defeated Pakistan the no. 1 team quite easily,” Shanaka said.
SLC secretary Mohan de Silva who carried out a security check in Pakistan ahead of the tour said, “We had to face a number of obstacles to make this tour a reality. We had to do a security assessment ahead of the tour and it was a fairly difficult task to convince the players with some of the seniors opting out. But these young brave cricketers spontaneously agreed to go ahead with the tour and we are very happy because most of them had been knocking at the door and when they got the opportunity they were able to demonstrate the strength and the skills they had in them. Naturally as SLC officials we are very happy that we have been able to unearth talent which augurs well for the future.”
Speaking further De Silva said, “In this context I would like to thank the PCB for ensuring the highest level of security right throughout the ODIs and T20Is. They have delivered a lot more than what was promised to us. We would also like to thank the Pakistan government for ensuring the safety of players and the efforts of Sports Minister Harin Fernando who went out of his way to support and encourage us to make this tour a reality and the Sri Lankan government for giving their blessings.”