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It is hard to believe that less than ten months ago, Sri Lanka were World Cup finalists. After the heartbreak of April 2, 2011, they have lost series to England, Australia, Pakistan and now South Africa. Tillakaratne Dilshan’s helpless, yet inwardly hurting, visage has been a common sight in all those defeats. Sunday’s game could be Dilshan’s last as Sri Lanka captain. There have been calls back home to sack him as leader. Some even want him to be dropped from the side. They want change.
What is being forgotten is that it is not only Dilshan who has failed. Sri Lanka’s senior batsmen have consistently failed. Their fast bowlers have picked up more injuries than wickets. The hunt for a match-winning spinner continues. To hold Dilshan responsible for all these failures is to ask the world of what was only a stop-gap appointment.
Dilshan finally put it together in the fourth ODI with an innings that seemed to have shaken off the shackles binding him. Sri Lanka took the cue from their captain and an uninhibited Thisara Perera blazed them to their first win of the series. If this indeed turns out to be Dilshan’s final game as captain, he would want his side to play like he has throughout his career. Without apprehension.
Sri Lanka’s struggles have made AB de Villiers’ first series as captain much easier than he would have thought. There were signs of panic, though, when Perera started to hit out. Suddenly, the fielding came down several notches, catches were spilled and de Villiers lost control over proceedings. He admitted after the game to have erred tactically. There will be time for him to learn on the job. A win in South Africa’s final game of the home summer season would not be a bad start on the learning curve.
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