Australian legend Shane Warne has picked his all-time Sri Lankan XI over the past 25 years, according to his official Facebook page. Warne’s greatest team ironically did not feature the Sri Lankan World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga, and Mahela Jayawardene was named skipper for the squad.
Warne had previously picked his all-time XI of almost all the top teams, including England, South Africa and New Zealand. He stated that he would be picking his favourite bunch of cricketers from all the Test-playing teams.
For someone who started off his career with just one wicket in his debut test, Warne finished off his decorated career with a whopping 708 Test scalps and 293 ODI wickets. Against Sri Lanka, Warne enjoyed a decent outing and a wonderful rivalry with another spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan, who also features in his all-time XI.
In 13 Tests against the Islanders, Warne picked up 59 wickets at an average of 25.54. Incidentally, the 46-year old picked up his 500th Test wicket against Sri Lanka, picking up the scalp of Hashan Tillakaratne in Galle, way back in 2004.
Tillakaratne Dilshan and Lasith Malinga were the only active members of the squad, which also featured the recently retired wicketkeeper-batsman Kumar Sangakkara. There were no surprises in the opening batting pair, with Marvan Atapattu and Sanath Jayasuriya making the cut.
Warne’s Lankan team contained a strong middle-order, with players like Sangakkara, Jayawardene, Aravinda de Silva and Dilshan completing the batting line-up. About the exclusion of Arjuna Ranatunga, Warne felt the former captain was unlucky to miss out and that he wasn’t as good as the other batsmen in the team.
“Ranatunga was unlucky to miss out as he did great things for SL, but in the end he just wasn’t as good as the batsmen that made it”, he said on his Facebook page. Another notable batsman to make the cut was former cricketer Asanka Gurusinha.
In the bowling department, Murali was seen as the sole mainstream spinner, with Jayasuriya, de Silva & Dilshan serving as part-timers. Warne had a tough time picking up the last pace-bowler, in addition to Lasith Malinga and Chaminda Vaas and decided to award the final spot to seamer Nuwan Zoysa.
“The last fast bowling spot was the hardest spot to fill, decided to go with the very tall and awkward Zoysa as when he was on song he was tough to play & different”, he said.
WARNE’S GREATEST SRI LANKAN XI (since 1990)
Marvan Atapattu, Sanath Jayasuriya, Asanka Gurusinha, Kumar Sangakara(Wk), Aravinda De Silva, Mahela Jayawardena(Captain), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Chaminda Vaas, Lasith Malinga, Muttiah Muralitharan, Nuwan Zoysa.
(Courtesy Sports Keeda.com)