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Posts Tagged ‘lasith malinga’

After the Test series, Sri Lanka’s first home series win against Pakistan, the two sides move on to ODIs with the tourists looking for revenge. In trying to get their own back, Pakistan will be boosted by the return of ICL exiles Naved-ul-Hasan and Imran Nazir (as well as Abdul Razzaq,back after sitting out the Tests).

After the relative success of both sides in the World Twenty20, the focus shifts to preparation for the World Cup in 2011, but both sides have chosen to focus on experience – whilst Pakistan welcome back their ICL players, Sri Lanka bring back the likes of Thilan Samaraweera. The hosts also enjoy the return of Lasith Malinga (although Dilhara Fernando is available as cover in case the slinger picks up an injury. Meanwhile, the pressure on Mendis to deliver against Pakistan, a side who have played him pretty well, continues to mount amid suggestions that his magic has worn off.

Pakistan will hope that their new opening partnership of Nazir and Kamran Akmal (or whatever other partnership they go for – the squad is as strong as it has been for ages) can deliver, whilst their bowling attack – led by Umar Gul – looks strong as usual. If Shahid Afridi can take his World Twenty20 form into the (slightly) longer form then the tourists have a real chance of victory, but inconsistency (as ever) may prove the largest obstacle to success for Pakistan.

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Yesterday’s recovery from Pakistan has proved to be somewhat of a dead cat bounce, as the tourists lost their last 9 wickets for just 35 runs (only the top three made it into double figures) to allow Sri Lanka to wrap up a historic win (and their first home series win against Pakistan) within three days.

Rangana Herath and Nuwan Kulasekara took 5-99 and 4-37 respectively for Sri Lanka as the hosts restricted Pakistan to a lead of just 170, before their batsmen reached 171/3 in less than 32 overs to wrap up a victory which seemed improbable 2 hours earlier.

For Pakistan, the brief moment of hope has once again faded, and the number of times that their batsmen were given out LBW is cause for concern. For Sri Lanka, there is encouragement that the absence of Murali need not preclude significant progress, and that the pace bowling attack is robust enough to cope without Vaas and Malinga.

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The build-up to the imminent Test series between Sri Lanka and Pakistan may have brought up memories of two recent meetings between the sides – the recent World Twenty20 final, and of course the sadly curtailed Test series of four months ago – but there’s change afoot for both sides.

For the hosts, Kumar Sangakkara takes over as captain, whilst Muralitharan, Vaas and Malinga are all absent, opening up opportunities for the likes of Angelo Matthews and Suraj Randiv to make debuts (and for Kulasekara to front the Test attack). Sri Lanka have never won a Test series at home against Pakistan, and in fact have only won a single home Test against the tourists, but their batting form is impressive enough to make the sorts of scores that can remove defeat from the equation.

For Pakistan, Mohammad Yousuf returns from his self-imposed (and self-rescinded) ICL exile, whilst Mohammad Aamer, supremely impressive at times in the World Twenty20, could be in line for a Test debut. The feelgood factor from that tournament hasn’t worn off yet, but bowling Sri Lanka out twice will be a challenge even for an attack featuring the brilliance and form of Umar Gul.

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Australia, as in any competition in any form of cricket, are amongst the favourites, but they are nowhere near as highly rated as usual. Most of the impressive Aussie performances in this year’s IPL were from players retired from international cricket or not included in the national team. Of course, there are enough top-quality players in the side to beat anyone else on their day, but a tough draw and the distraction of the upcoming Ashes may mean that this is not the Australia that usually turns up and dominates international tournaments.

The West Indies were disappointing in the last tournament, but given their captain’s recently-expressed view on the merits of Twenty20 cricket, they should presumably put in more of an effort this time around. If Gayle, Chanderpaul and Bravo all live up to their billing, then the Windies will be a force to reckon with, but none of them performed well in either  the Tests or the ODI series against England, so the pressure is on.

Sri Lanka will be playing their first international cricket since the team fell victim to a terrorist attack when on tour in Pakistan, and hopes will be high that the country can make headlines for the right reasons. Players like Kumar Sangakkara, Lasith Malinga and Ajantha Mendis are well-equipped for match-winning performances, and although the side has a tough draw, Sri Lanka could be the dark horses of the competition.

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Lasith Malinga, aka Malinga the Slinger, who’s been injured for ages, has allegedly benefitted from ‘supernatural healing‘ from Dr. Eliyantha White, who sounds a bit like a quack to me.

Silly season, what silly season?

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Tomorrow, Sri Lanka take on India in the first Test of the series. Much of the talk has been about a certain Sri Lankan spinner, and not the usual one.

Sri Lanka will probably need both Mendis and Muralitharan to hit form, as Malinga and Fernando are both injured, meaning that the pace bowling attack looks unlikely to take 20 Indian wickets on its own.

From India’s point of view, this is nevertheless likely to be a difficult series. Aside from the fact that Dhoni will be ‘rested‘, India’s recent record in Sri Lanka isn’t great. Half of the Tests played between these two sides have been drawn, and the figure is even higher if only Tests in Sri Lanka are taken into account. Whether India’s bowling attack is good enough to fight that trend, I cannot say.

The series will also be notable for the trialling of the new umpire referrals. The cricketing world will be watching with interest.

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The ECB today named Sri Lanka as the team that will be touring next year, as replacements for Zimbabwe. At the moment, this means one thing in particular: Ajantha Mendis will be coming to England.

Also, of course, it means that the mighty Murali, Malinga the Slinger and Uncle Sanath will be coming as well, which is more than enough to get me excited.

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