The ODI series has been wrapped up with the visitors failing to win any of the four matches that were played. Sri Lanka’s best performance came in the first ODI but since then, their performance saw a constant decline that culminated in the embarrassing defeat in the final ODI.
But all is not pear-shaped for a team that is rebuilding. Though not many, there were a few positives to take from the series.
Here is the compilation of four such positives:
1. Kusal Mendis at number three
Since Sangakkara’s retirement, Sri Lanka has had a lot of trouble finding a number three batsman. Though Lahiru Thirimanne was entrusted with that major responsibility, he failed to pay dividends. A streak of poor performance saw Thirimanne being dropped from the test team during Sri Lanka’s tour of New Zealand with Udara Jayasundara playing in his stead.
However, it was the 21-year-old Kusal Mendis, who dropped down a place to number three from his opening position, who emerged as Sri Lanka’s plausible number three for some time. Batting under difficult circumstances in Headingly, the young right-hander struck a sweet fifty and followed his good times in white flannels with a brace of fifties in the ODIs.
The most impressive feature of Mendis’s batting was his ability to score faster without taking too many risks. He possesses a sound technic that allows him to play both fast bowlers and spinners equally well. Since Mahela’s retirement, Sri Lanka has been in search of a boundary hitter, who can score at a brisk pace while keeping the innings together, and Kusal Mendis’s arrival seems like will provide a bigger relief to the whimpering team.
2. Nuwan Pradeep’s death bowling
Though Malinga is most likely to return in a few months, the fact that he is not going to play for too long has made it important for Sri Lanka to find a player who can fill his void.
Initially brought into the side as a fast bowler who could touch 150kmph, a series of injuries turned Nuwan Pradeep into a fast-medium bowler, who relied more on line and length. Despite being a regular in the test side, Pradeep was at long last given a long run in the ODI series and his returns are comforting.
In the first ODI, Pradeep hurled accurate Yorkers at England’s tail but he missing his length by a few centimeters resulted in Plunkett plummeting him for an epic last-ball six to tie the game for England. However, his ability to land Yorkers consistently earned him quite a lot of accolades.
His Yorkers clubbed with his timely slower deliveries and his ability to hit the pitch hard made him a reliable death over the bowler for Sri Lanka during the dreadful series. The right arm pace bowler also has the ability to move the ball both in the air and off the pitch when conditions help and this might make him a go-to bowler for Sri Lanka at the death.
3. Chandimal’s consistency
Dinesh Chandimal has had a middling career in ODIs but his consistency in the ODI series has warded off any suspicions about his ability with the bat. Though the team might require much more than his consistent batting, the right-hander’s ability to form a solid base has given the team and the fans a lot of hope.
In the face of Chandimal’s innings generally being on the slower side, a solid base laid in the form of a consistent streak of scores might prompt Chandimal to be more audacious in the coming games for he has answered skeptics and critics alike.
Having thrown any question about his place in the side to the wind, it is up to Chandimal now to retrieve his match-winning ability that made him a standout during his younger days.
4. Gunathilaka’s all-round ability
Danushka Gunathilaka, at a stage, was feared that he might enter the long list of talents that were never given a proper run in the national team, but a good series with the bat and the ball may have ensured a permanent place for him in the side.
Although he failed in the first three matches, a strong performance with the bat in the last two games and he manifesting his reliability with the ball during the last ODI have made him a suitable replacement for Dilshan.
He also took a stunning catch at backward point to dismiss Eoin Morgan, and thus, his ability to field well at the crucial point position makes him an excellent prospect for Sri Lanka.