The defending Asia Cup Champions, Sri Lanka Cricket’s consistent low seems to have finally found its high. With fresh blood blowing fire to the team’s soul, Sri Lanka is ready to march onto new heights. After the likes of Sangakkara and Jayawardene left, the Sri Lankan team struggled for role models. Controversies around the team started growing. Disciplinary actions were taken against certain players and their Cricket was down and about. Until Dimuth Karunaratne was given the captaincy in red ball and youngster Dasun Shanka the white ball captaincy, things started changing for Sri Lanka. Let us look at how their form in ODIs and what to expect from the Lankan Lions.
Although Sri Lanka failed to qualify for the ODI World Cup and ended up playing the Qualifiers. They won all of their qualifier matches comprehensively proving that they are not a team to miss direct qualification. They have played 16 ODI matches in 2023, winning 10 of them and losing 6. They batted first in 9 matches and won 6. They scored an average of 282 runs in matches they won batting first and failed to defend scores of 215,157,268. They batted second in 7 matches chasing the target 4 times which was: 244, 165, 100, 120, and failing to chase 277, 391, 374.
Pathum Nissanka led the batting charts with 687, including 2 100s and 5 fifties. In the bowling department, Wanindu Hasaranga, the no3 bowler in the T20I led the charge with 28 wickets. While his spin partner Mahesh Theekshana took 23 wickets and won the Most Player of the Match awards(3) for his team. Their spinners have had more impact in their wins turning the game single-handedly on its head.
Their XI might look something like this:
Pathum Nissanka, Diumth Karunaratne, Kusal Mendis, Samarawickrama, Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Shanaka, Hasaranga, Theekshana, Pathirana, Madushanka
The Openers: The opening partnership plays a crucial role in setting the foundation for the team. With Nassanka in good form and scoring valuable runs and Karunaratne’s composure, expect some good opening partnerships from these two.
Middle Order: Kusal Mendis regained his position after restoring his form. He is a batman who always looks to score runs. The stylish Asalnka, who can play spin very well complemented by the saviour Dhananjaya de Silva. And with Shanaka’s power at the death. This middle order tends to take the game deep and finish it well.
The Spin Duo: The spin pair of Hasaranga and Theekshana has been really valuable for Sri Lanka. They have played the most part in the team’s wins. Theekshana often opens the bowling and is been very successful at the top. With Hasaranga’s wicket-taking ability in the middle. Opposing Teams will look to play out his duo without much loss.
Fast Bowlers: Fast bowling hasn’t been the forte of the Sri Lankan team lately. Pathirana leading the legacy of Malinga and being under the guidance of Dhoni has improved a lot and adds an X-factor to this team. Lahiru Kumara the big man with pace might as well return to the side after not playing the CWC Qualifiers due to a side strain. The pacers are expected to support the spinners.
Sri Lanka winning the last Asia Cup will give them confidence. And their successful run in the last few ODIs proves that this team cannot be taken lightly and has the potential to give tough competition to other sides. They will be looking to get maximum advantage of their home conditions and with the backing and support of their home crowd, they will have their tail up.