A tall off-spinner who more than slightly resemblances to R Ashwin of India in his bowling style, Senanayake made his international debut in Sri Lanka's win over South Africa today. He started off fairly steadily, coming on first change in the fifth over and only conceding two runs, but took some tap from Alviro Petersen in the next over and was taken off.
For a part time spinner himself, Dilshan seems to have a pretty poor understanding of how to manage spinners. The most important thing for a spinner, especially one on debut who's likely to be nervous, is to get some rhythm. Bowling your ten overs in five separate spells means that you have no chance.
It was true that in the second over of his first two spells, Senanayake went for a few boundaries, but he wasn't bowling particularly badly, he was just bowling to a tight field in a power-play against some excellent batting. In those spells Dilshan could be partly justified in taking him off quickly, but what was completely inexplicable was in his next spell he bowled very well to restrict South Africa to eight from his three overs, only to be taken off and brought back in five overs at the other end for one over.
That was his ninth over, and I assumed he would bowl out, but Dilshan peculiarly took him off then brought him back on another five overs later for his final over. Despite having to put up with this poor captaincy Senanayake bowled creditably in his second five overs, only conceding 19 runs, and only one boundary.
He finished with innings figures of 0-53 and beat the bat a couple of times once he settled in to one of his spells. His domestic record looks decent, and there are whisperings that he can bowl the doosra, although I saw no evidence of it today. Hopefully he'll get retained for the fifth ODI, it's clear that he's got something about him.
N.B. Dilshan's erratic captaincy wasn't just confined to the spinners, overall he made 25 bowling changes in a 50 over innings. Time for a bit of patience with your bowlers Tillakaratne.