Chandimal, Tharanga

Published : 8:27 am  July 13, 2017 | No comments so far |  |  (66) reads | 

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By Shehan Daniel 
Dinesh Chandimal will lead Sri Lanka in the one-off Test against Zimbabwe which begins tomorrow (14) following Angelo Mathews’ decision to step down as captain across all formats with Upul Tharanga taking over the limited-over captaincy.  In a move that didn’t come as a total surprise Mathews relinquished his duties after meeting the National Selectors and Board officials on Tuesday and informed them that he wished to step down from the captaincy, with the formal announcement of his replacements coming yesterday. 
In his letter of resignation to Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) Mathews owned up to the team’s recent failings, that included a stunning series defeat to Zimbabwe, which had led to his decision to resign as captain. 


“However, as captain I cannot turn a blind eye to the failures of the team during the last several months. In this regard, I am very much concerned that we were unfortunate to lose to Zimbabwe, with all due respect, during the recently concluded one day series. This loss personally is the lowest point in my cricketing career. On this notion, giving deep thought I decided it was time for me to resign as captain of the National Team in all formats,” the letter read.  Mathews also added, when speaking to the media yesterday, that that alone was not the reason for his stepping down, having previously contemplated giving up the position. 


“It was not an easy decision, (which was) mainly not due to the fact that we lost (to Zimbabwe) but yes, there have been significant poor performances, and I am humble enough to accept it. In the past also there were instances where I wanted to step down but I didn’t want to let the team down at that time. Mainly because there were no replacements as such, but now I feel this is the right time,” Mathews said, 
“There were two things working in my mind, whether this is the right time to step down and whether this is the right time considering the team, because the team’s interest supersedes my personal interest,” Mathews claimed. 


World Cup
To those points, Mathews said he felt could relinquish the positions, as there were players now who could take over, and that this would give the new captain time to build a team for the next World Cup. 


“My honest opinion is that there are candidates who could take over the reigns, and I am sure they will be more successful and better captains than me. Also, I wanted to give the successor enough time till the World Cup to build up a team. Those were the main reasons for me to step down,” he said, promising that the National Team will always remain his priority over franchise T20 Tournaments. 
Meanwhile, both Chandimal and Tharanga praised the contributions Mathews had made as captain and player.  


“It’s not an easy job as a captain, in any team. (He has) done a great job in the last four-five years,” the new Test Captain said. 
“I’m honoured to captain the Test side. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs in the last two years, but we’ve got some good players, some good youngsters and the seniors. I’ll put my heart and soul in future to get in the right position.” 


Tharanga meanwhile, said consistency was the need of the hour for the Sri Lanka Team. 
“Angelo (Mathews) has been one of the best captains we have had and one of the best cricketers we have produced and during his time as captain, he did a lot for cricket. It’s been an up and down period for us over the last few years and consistency is what we need to aim for,” Tharanga said.   


Mathews’ accession to the captaincy didn’t come as a surprise either, having long been seen as leadership material. His execution however, with his defensive approach, meant that his credentials came into question time and again. 


ICC Rankings 
Mathews took over the captaincy in 2013, with Chandimal himself seated next to him, as his deputy. Mathews set a lofty goal of reaching the top three of the ICC Rankings in all formats during his tenure with Sri Lanka sixth in Tests and fifth in ODIs at that time. 
However, more than four years on Sri Lanka’s position has only declined, losing one place in Tests, and three places in ODIs, also ranked eighth in T20Is, which they were on top of as recent as January 2016. 


Chandimal, despite being earmarked as a future star when he made his debut in 2010/11, failed to live up to the hype and has been frequently in and out of the team. 


However, Chief Selector Sanath Jayasuriya defended the decision to appoint Chandimal as the Test Captain even though he was omitted from the recent ODI series against Zimbabwe.  “He was always in our plans for Test cricket. He has been with the squad, he has been training with the red ball. We had some issues with the ODIs that’s  why we didn’t pick him. But that’s a temporary setback and every player has temporary setbacks in any format of the game,” reiterating that his position in the Test team was never in doubt.  In the lead up to the one-off Test, Sri Lanka yesterday named their 15-member squad, with limited overs opener Danushka Gunathilaka coming in, in place of middle order batsman Dhananjaya de Silva. 


Sri Lanka were forced to make two other changes with Kusal Perera and Nuwan Pradeep ruled out with injury, with fast bowlers Vishwa Fernando and Dushmantha Chameera being named in place. 


Sri Lanka Test Squad: Dinesh Chandimal (Captain), Upul Tharanga, Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella, Dimuth Karunaratne, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Asela Gunaratne, Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera, Lakshan Sandakan, Vishwa Fernando, Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara.