Colombo could reach only as far as the knockouts in both editions of the LPL, and they will be looking to do at least one better this time around. In this article, we will be taking a look at their squad, its strengths, and weaknesses, and if they have got what it takes to go all the way in the tournament.
To appraise their chances, we will be looking at their powerplay, middle-over and death-over batting, and their bowling prospects in the powerplay and at the death. We will also take into account the variations available in their attack and their fifth bowling option.
To begin with, in this analysis, we will overlook Chamod Battage, Muditha Lakshan, Nishan Madushka, and Navod Paranavithana as they are unknown quantities and not much is known about their ability or lack thereof. Teams in the LPL have been very cautious in trying out inexperienced rookies and I don’t expect this season to be any different.
First, let’s take a look at their batting in the powerplay. Colombo have only a handful of opening options in their squad in the form of Niroshan Dickwella, Charith Asalanka, and Dinesh Chandimal. Niroshan Dickwella is one of the most accomplished openers in the LPL, striking at 154.23 at an average of 28.18 during the powerplay, and he will have to be Colombo’s enforcer during the powerplay.
Asalanka’s best position in T20s is arguably opening as it allows him to get his eye in before teeing off. However, the absence of a left-handed enforcer against spin in the middle order in the squad means, Colombo will have to probably open with Chandimal. Chandimal opened the batting in the first LPL and given his preference to bat up the order, this should be a straightforward choice for Colombo.
However, despite starting to show good intent of late, Chandimal’s strike rate and consistency have been a grave concern. Add to that Dickwella’s poor form with the bat this year which has seen him average 12.5 at a strike rate of 117.6 in the Caribbean Premiere League, you can expect Colombo to struggle to get off to good starts consistently in this LPL.
Besides, if Dickwella is dismissed early, Colombo are less likely to maximize the powerplay as the backup option Asalanka, despite having shown glimpses of his potential as a powerplay hitter sporadically, does not quite show the same intent as Dickwella early on in his innings. Moreover, spin is expected to play a major role in the powerplay, and Chandimal’s record against spin leaves a lot to be desired. On a positive note, though, Colombo have got a right-hand-left-hand combination that might offer them some respite from being strangulated by matchups.
Taking all these into account, I will give their powerplay batting a rating of 25 out of 100.
Moving onto their middle-over batting, Charith Asalanka’s redoubtable presence as a left-handed spin hitter provides Colombo the much-needed muscle against wrist spin and slow left arm. However, their overall spin-hitting ability is very uninspiring as Karim Janat is the only one with a good record against spin even though his numbers against wrist spin is pretty bleak. Angelo Mathews does have a good record against off-spin, but he has struggled against almost every other type of bowling. So, if Asalanka is dismissed early, Colombo’s entire middle order becomes vulnerable to wrist spin.
Teams gifted with express bowlers sometimes look to target the spin hitters during the middle overs with pace, so it is imperative that you have a pace shield in the middle order. In Colombo’s case, Karim Janat provides just that but he is their only reliable pace hitter in the top 5.
In summary, Asalanka’s and Janat’s presence adds a lot of power to Colombo’s middle order, and I will rate it 67 out of 100.
Colombo’s biggest strength is their lower-order power hitting as they have managed to rope in Romario Shepherd, Ravi Bopara, and Benny Howell—all of whom are exceptional hitters of pace at the death. Benny Howell’s ability to bat at number 8 lengthens Colombo’s batting, and this will allow the likes of Bopara and Shepherd to be more adventurous with the bat.
On the flip side, Colombo’s lower order’s ability against spin is very limited and if teams decide to throttle them with spin at the death, they will have to hope that Karim Janat stays long enough at the crease to take spin on.
In conclusion, given Colombo’s batting depth, and their pace-hitting trio, I will rate their death-over batting 81 out of 100.
Bowling is going to be Colombo’s Achille’s heel as they have arguably got the worst bowling attack in the tournament. They have no fast bowler who can clock in excess of 140kmph, and they are left without a slow left-armer to boot. To top everything off, none of their bowlers has a good record at the death and unless they manage to pick early wickets, Colombo are going to struggle to stanch the flow of runs at the death.
Nonetheless, Kasun Rajitha with his ability to swing the ball, and Benny Howell with his fast spin offer Colombo two great options during the powerplay. Jeffrey Vandersay’s traditional wrist spin could become handy on turning pitches and against batsmen who struggle against this type of spin during the middle overs.
Romario Shephard is more than a decent fifth bowler and Karim Janat’s bowling can also become useful as Colombo do not have good local pace bowlers.
On the whole, Colombo will have to depend on new-ball assistance for Rajitha and the spin of Vandersay and Howell to stay afloat with the ball. I will give them a rating of 41 out of 100.
Colombo’s strength is obviously their lower-order hitting with Janat and Asalanka offering power options during the middle overs. Their batsmen will have to take the lead and try to out-bat teams and give their bowlers the extra 15-20 runs they need if they are to go all the way in the tournament.
I will give Colombo an overall rating of 49 out of 100.
My preferred starting XI:
Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Dinesh Chandimal, Charith Asalanka, Angelo Mathews, Karim Janat, Ravi Bopara, Romario Shepherd, Benny Howell, Dhananjaya Lakshan/Lakshitha Manasinghe, Jeffrey Vandersay, Kasun Rajitha.