Sri Lanka’s win in T-20I Series on Pakistan Soil is much beyond than the cricketing term; it is reconfirming age-old mantra in sports and in life that anything is possible if you do it with a sense of self-belief mixed with patience and perseverance.
Sri Lanka has lost many fans in recent years, not because they have been losing but the side seemed to have lost the will or capability to grind the opposition. However, 2019 has been a crazy one for Sri Lanka and its fans. Amid a number of losses, there have been signs that the team has started to recover well without being exceptional but the two most unbelievable milestones which they have achieved this year which eluded them even in their best years might signal the sign of positive future.
First coming from nowhere and becoming first-ever Asian team to win a Test series on South African soil and as if 2-0 clean sweep of Proteas was not sufficient by the end of the year they came up with another major surprise.
A side missing its 10 first choice International Cricketers stunned the no.1 T20I team in their own backyard, they not only defeated Pakistan in Pakistan but they whitewashed them 3-0 in 3-match International series and this happened after they were called a second-string team and lost the ODI series of 3 matches by 2-0,How did Dashun Shanaka’s men did the unthinkable?
The Sri Lankan batting without being exceptional found the heroes in every match, In first match Danushka Gunthalika made a brilliant half-century supported from the cameos of Avishka Fernando and Bhanuka Rajapaksa. In the second match after the openers failed number 3, 4 and 5 stepped up with Rajapaksa (77 of 48 balls), Shehan Jayasuriya (34 of 28 balls) and Captain Shanaka (27 of 15 ) respectively taking Sri Lanka to a competitive total.
In the fourth match when Sri Lanka was down and out at 4-58, Oshada Fernando played a blinder with 78 of just 48 balls.
In spite of all this Sri Lanka were never allowed to take the game away. They made 165,182 and 147 in three matches respectively, which were decent without being outstanding.
However, a young team without any burden of expectations led by a young captain and a bunch of youngsters who saw this a lifetime opportunity made it extremely difficult for Pakistan.
Nuwan Pradeep as a senior pro led the attack with exceptional figures of 7-46 in 7 overs in 2 matches and was ably supported by the young pace battery. While Kasun Rajitha picked only three wickets but his economy of 4.36 was exceptional, it was his spell that ensured that Pakistan were always under pressure, Ishuru Udana is turning out to be a specialist of limited over games.
However, it was Hasaranga De Silva who was a surprise factor. The youngster who seemed out of depth when he arrived has returned with more confidence and self-belief. He was the top ticket taker from both sides and it was his strikes in the middle overs which proved fatal for Pakistan.
These Sri Lankan players who risked everything probably a few of them believed it was an opportunity for a lifetime especially for players like Shehan Jayasuriya who performed very well in both limited over series on Tour. It was also a test for the captain of both sides, and both Lahiru Thirimanne and Dasun Shanaka can held their heads high that with a second choice team they performed beyond expectations.
However, the job isn’t over. Now it’s up to these Cricketers and the seniors to achieve consistency in the game which has badly hurt Sri Lanka badly since 2015 after players like Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Rangana Herath, Tillakaratne Dilshan, and Thilan Samaraweera retired.
Luckily the series will provide more options to Sri Lanka in the future, players like Hasaranga De Silva, Oshada Fernando, Avishka Fernando seem to have a long future ahead while others have also started to challenge the established names. So it will be interesting to see how do the selectors select the team for future tours.
However above all the Sri Lanka’s win underlines that anything is possible if you have self-belief in your abilities especially in sports where underestimating your opponent might be hurtful, As Pakistan have found out that David can defeat Goliath.