Does Sri Lanka rely too much on weirdos?

Sri Lanka has two of the best T20 tweakers out there. Malicious leg spinner Wanindu Hasaranga and cunning mystery spinner Maheesh Theekshana. Together, they could unleash most of the tricks in Spin Diction, from standard leg breakers to inverted carrom balls, and don’t necessarily require assistance from the court. There’s also the underrated part-time off-spin by Dhananjaya de Silva.

But as assorted as Sri Lanka’s spin department is, there is uncertainty about its pace bowling company. At the Asia Cup, a few youngsters emerged from the darkness like left arm sailor Dilshan Madushanka and Pramod Madushan. But they have a collective experience of eight T20I. Their two most experienced bowlers, Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara, despite being in the roster, are struggling with injuries and insecurity.

Chameera has suffered a number of injuries, most recently one to the calf. So does Kumara, who has recovered from a recurring hamstring injury. Even if they recover in time, they would come into play with little match practice – Kumara last played in an international match in March, while Chameera, despite the team management’s best efforts not to overload him, has collapsed frequently and last played a competitive game in June. Both are unlikely to appear for the qualifiers.

That would leave Madushanka and Madushan with a crushing burden. Madushanka, one of the architects of Asian Cup triumph, has the orientation to succeed – bowling at a decent pace (135-142 km/h), getting a late inward movement that worries both Babar Azam and Virat Kohli , and is disciplined. But his death bowling is still a work in progress and he tends to bowl too many long balls.

Like Madushanka, Madushan likes to hit the ribbon from good to full length and tends to err on the shorter side when aiming to throw back-of-length. His lack of speed means the short ball becomes fodder for batsmen. Aside from Kumara, Sri Lanka therefore lack a pound-the-deck bowler who can be useful in Australian conditions. And nobody but Kumara is an experienced death bowler.

Aside from this quartet – two of whom are uncertain and two weak – Sri Lanka has little depth in the pace bowling department. Medium speed Chamika Karunaratne is more of a scattergun and is usually limited to part-time duties. Dasun Shanaka has become a reluctant bowler after becoming captain. There is little promise on the standby bench either. The only fast bowling alternative is Binura Fernando, who loses almost eight and a half runs per over. So once again Sri Lanka relies too much on its multi-talented weirdos.

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