Musings I: The Gambler’s Guide to Sri Lanka’s Prospects at the T20 World Cup

Michael Roberts, courtesy of islandcricket.lk… http://www.islandcricket.lk/columns/michael_roberts/471830215/wt20-sri-lankas-prospects-and-the-gambler-s-guide

KOLKATA, INDIA - MARCH 13: Heavy security presence during a Pakistan training session at Eden Gardens on March 13, 2016 in Kolkata, India. (Photo by Jan Kruger-IDI/IDI via Getty Images)

KOLKATA, INDIA – MARCH 13: Heavy security presence during a Pakistan training session at Eden Gardens on March 13, 2016 in Kolkata, India. (Photo by Jan Kruger-IDI/IDI via Getty Images)

 “Dim and Slim.” That was (and remains) my answer to a question presented by Hilal Suhaib of islandcricket.lk about Sri Lanka’s chances at the World Twenty-Twenty in India. That question was asked a week back. I was going to add another quotable quote as caveat: “but that can be a plus — with nothing to lose Lanka can spring surprises.”

Blast!! Angelo Mathews has pre-empted my striking point of entry to Hilal’s ISLAND CRICKET. “If you look at it from the outside, no one will give us a chance. And that is a good thing. We can go out and express ourselves,” said the Sri Lanka captain a few days back (Mehta 2016). Good thinking, good psychology. Good captaincy.

But thinking in hard-headed and uncompromising lines, Sri Lanka’s prospects in the World T20 are surely poor and miniscule. The world’s gamblers have been quite firm on that point.

THE FAVOURITES

$3 India

$5.50 Australia

$6 South Africa

$8 England

$10 New Zealand

$13 West Indies

$17 Pakistan

$21 Sri Lanka

$34 Bangladesh

Afghanistan has not entered the affray when that array of odds & returns was forecast. It will not surprise me if they begin to match Sri Lanka when the odds are finalized and it will not surprise me if they beat Sri Lanka when they meet (depending, as usual, on who wins the toss, the dew factor if any and umpteen imponderables). The estimates worked out by gambling men are not to be laughed at. The only surprise in this listing is Pakistan’s position. They have immense talent these Pakistanis, some sharp pacemen, several allrounders and several blitzkrieg batsmen. One wonders, therefore, if the gambling syndicate is Hindu or if they reckon the Indian environment will be hostile (in the manner IPL which has carefully sidelined the Pakistanis tout court).

The best path for Sri Lankan patriot gamblers, perhaps, is to place moderate bets on Sri Lanka’s individual games (where, however, the odds will be different). Without high expectations and with nothing to lose, their adherence to Angelo’s philosophy could just reap rewards against, say, the Windies or England or South Africa in ways that will please such die-hard Sri Lankan gamblers.

One cricket buff-reporter in Lanka did indicate that Sri Lanka was lucky to be in a cluster that did not have India and Australia. Yes, true. But as the recent series in South Africa indicated, both those teams have several batsmen whose strike rate is pretty high, both higher up the order and in the middle ranks. That range of capacity is what makes a difference between victory and loss in fast-moving T20 matches.

Thisara Perera (45.65) Milinda Siriwardena (137.16) and Angelo Mathews (120.72) are the only middle-order men with batting strike rates above 120 (Chandimal’s is only 102.82 so his recent success as an opener is a welcome shift).

So, in tough-talk terms, Sri Lanka’s prospects are, yes, dim and slim. So the philosophy should be that proposed by Mathews: go out there and enjoy, nothing to lose, lads.

SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY

Jigar Mehta: “World T20: Not being favourites will give us a chance to play with freedom, says Angelo Mathews,” 10 March 2016, http://www.firstpost.com/sports/world-t20-not-being-favourites-will-give-us-a-chance-to-play-with-freedom-says-sri-lanka-captain-mathews-2665896.html

AWAIT … other essays to be posted in http://cricketique.wordpress.com

Musings II: Too Many Heads and Too Many Guillotines

Musings III: Misfortunes that have hit Sri Lankan cricket

Musings IV: Sri Lanka’s Many Shortcomings

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