powered by

10 March 201511:34 By R Kaushik , Hobart

Sri Lanka v Scotland Preview, Match 35, Hobart

With many first-choice players succumbing to injuries, Angelo Mathews’s men must rework their combinations

Sri Lanka v Scotland Preview, Match 35, Hobart - Cricket News

Sri Lanka's main concern would be managing its resources properly.

It’s been a challenging ICC Cricket World Cup campaign for Sri Lanka thus far.

Yes, it is already in the quarter-finals, Bangladesh’s emotional victory against England at the Adelaide Oval formalising the 1996 champion’s presence in the quarter-finals, and it is playing good cricket, but the quarter-final slot has come at quite an expense.

Even considering that injuries are part and parcel of competitive sport, Sri Lanka has been dealt the unkindest of cuts. Injuries have spread through the camp, and Angelo Mathews would be hoping his side gets through a few practice sessions and matches without one of his players either breaking a finger or doing his hammy.

While Kumar Sangakkara is busy blazing a path-breaking trail, many of the other players were busy tending to their injuries. The infection, it would appear, was triggered by Dhammika Prasad fracturing his left hand a week before the start of the tournament at a training stint. He was then joined by Jeevan Mendis (hamstring) and Dimuth Karunaratne (fractured finger), while Rangana Herath is still recovering from splitting the webbing in his left hand during the match against England, an injury that necessitated stitches.

Now Sri Lanka would be without Dinesh Chandimal too for the rest of the tournament. The former Twenty20 International captain picked up a hamstring injury during his spectacular 52 off 24 deliveries in a spirited run chase against Australia on Sunday, a development that forced him to retire hurt. The medical staff had hoped against hope that he would pull up okay, but on Tuesday, Sri Lanka was forced to apply for a fourth replacement. Kusal Perera has been given the go-ahead, which means that as the business end of the competition approaches, Sri Lanka must not only have to do without several first-choice options, it must also figure out what combinations would work for them going forward.

Sri Lanka fortunately have only one game left in the league stage, a match against Scotland. Bellerive Oval, one of the more scenic cricket venues in the world, will welcome the ICC Cricket World Cup to its breathtaking facility on Wednesday (March 11); Sri Lanka would want to win, but it would be more concerned about managing its resources properly.

Scotland are one of only two teams in the 14-strong World Cup without a win to its name. Like its winless Pool B counterparts UAE, it has two games remaining, both in Hobart, and would welcome the opportunity of testing itself against Sri Lanka, and then Australia on Saturday.

Scotland must feel it ought to have won at least one, if not both, of its games against Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Afghanistan sneaked a one-wicket win in the final over, thanks to the heroics of Hamid Hassan and Shapoor Zadran, while Bangladesh scaled down 318 with some composure. It was not only Bangladesh’s highest ever chase, it was only the third time in 298 ODIs that the Asian nation had overhauled a target in excess of 300.

Kyle Coetzer went into the history books last week by making the highest individual score by an associate team batsman – 156 against Bangladesh – and Josh Davey has been among the wickets with his medium pace, but otherwise, Scotland has found the going tough. Iain Wardlaw, its top bowler, has been off colour, going at 6.57 runs an over and taking just five wickets in four games, while Mommsen himself has made only 88 runs with a highest of 39.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s batting has shown itself to be in fine fettle, both in that extraordinary nine-wicket win against England chasing upwards of 300 and in the 64-run loss to Australia, who had piled up 376 for 9. There have been hundreds at various stages from Tillakaratne Dilshan, Lahiru Thirimanne and Mahela Jayawardene, but the standout has been Sangakkara. No batsman had made three successive hundreds in an ICC Cricket World Cup until the left-handed stylist tiptoed his way to 104 against Australia on the back of unbeaten centuries against Bangladesh and England. Even as he is contemplating hanging up his boots from all international cricket, he is batting better than he has before. Scotland would not want to be at the receiving end of another Sanga special, but it would probably enjoy it just a little bit even if the old warhorse was to turn on the magic again.

The bowling, however, will trigger a fair few furrowed brows. Sri Lanka conceded 331 to New Zealand, 309 to England and then 376 to Australia the other night. Lasith Malinga hasn’t hit full throttle yet, though, like often, he is its leading wicket-taker. Malinga came into the ICC Cricket World Cup with very little game time. Having bowled 48.4 overs, he should be building up nicely for the quarter-final in Sydney. Sri Lanka would be desperate for Herath, too, to be available for that March 18 encounter; the left-arm spinner brings experience, control and penetration. If Sri Lanka runs into South Africa in the quarter-final, as looks likely, it would require a fully fit Herath and a fully firing Malinga.

Sri Lanka wouldn’t take Scotland lightly, but most of its concerns would revolve around making sure that the sick bay numbers don’t mount.

Teams (from):

Sri Lanka: Tillakaratne Dilshan, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Mahela Jayawardene, Angelo Mathews (capt), Kusal Perera, Upul Tharanga, Seekkuge Prasanna, Thisara Perera, Sachithra Senanayake, Lasith Malinga, Rangana Herath, Nuwan Kulasekara, Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera.

Scotland: Kyle Coetzer, Calum MacLeod, Hamish Gardiner, Matt Machan, Preston Mommsen (capt), Richie Berrington, Matthew Cross (wk), Josh Davey, Majid Haq, Alasdair Evans, Iain Wardlaw, Freddie Coleman, Michael Leask, Safyaan Sharif, Rob Taylor.