The skipper would not have seen Sanath Jayasuriya, Muttiah Muralitharan Mahela Jayawardene and Dilhara Fernando, his colleagues over the last decade, if he had taken a look around. But Sangakkara certainly won’t be brooding as the substitutes have done a good job for the team so far.
A time will soon come when these replacements will be the first choices for Sri Lanka and signs of them adapting to the big stage were evident in the second match of the tri-series on Thursday.
Sangakkara and Thilan Samaraweera had added 122 runs just under six runs per over for the third wicket, but still Lanka needed some more force to go past the finishing line. That was provided by Thissara Perera as Lanka notched up their second successive win of the tournament.
Perera’s is a 20-year old lad with just two ODIs under his belt. Taking more than 50 runs off the last seven overs off some experienced bowlers on a sluggish pitch could put even the best under some pressure, but Perera wasn’t worried one bit.
His plan was simple -- hit the ball as far as possible with as much power he can muster and the strategy worked well on the night. Sangakkara said afterwards: “Thissara's inexperience and Samaraweera's experience worked for us. We knew we had a chance if Thilan kept batting and Perera came off.
“Perera has got no fears, which is good to see. Sometimes it can happen that a bowling attack might get a bit confused where to bowl when a player you have not seen much of comes to bat in these situations. He has got talent.”
The Lankans might have unearthed another unpolished diamond in Perera and he can provide more substance to the line-up along with Angelo Mathews when the all-rounder returns from injury.
On the spin front, the waning effect of Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis — the duo now looks like magicians who have forgotten their craft — had forced Sri Lanka to think of other options of late. Rangana Herath’s role has been restricted to Tests while Malinga Bandara warms the bench on most occasions, and they are also not exactly in the prime of their youth.
When Suraj Randiv was preferred over the two for the recent one-day series in India, there were a few looks of surprise, but the young offie has held his own in the 50-over format so far. Randiv’s analysis on Tuesday read 10-0-36-0, his effort coming in the middle overs against two accomplished power-hitters like Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh.
Sangakkara was elated with the youngsters’ show. “We have six guys in the team with less than six games’ experience. We have to trust the players and give them the opportunities and sometimes they surprise you with the ability. In all senses, it was an important win for us,” he said.
If Upul Tharanga can maintain his recent consistency and Thilina Kandamby can pull his weight in the middle-order, Sri Lanka could be a tough-to-stop force.