Sri Lanka: Patchy performers punching above their weights

posted on 2019-07-08 11:33:14
posted by Naimish Gupta

Light on paper, Sri Lanka certainly punched above their weight in the World Cup

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A team which was brushed aside from the competition for the lack of firepower on paper. A team which, in hindsight, allayed that perception and punched above their weight to produce arguably the biggest spectacle of the competition. A team which did all it could for the others (Pakistan and Bangladesh) but couldn’t battle its own misfortune (two washed games) and bad form of its players (no one scoring above 300 runs in the competition and only Malinga breaching the 10-wicket mark). Here is the campaign review of Sri Lanka.

What went wrong?

Sri Lanka had a kind of disastrous opening to the tournament as they could manage only a solitary win from their first four games – two of which (against Pakistan and Bangladesh) were washed out. There remaining five games included some really tough and in-form competitors like Australia, England, South Africa and India, making it a really steep climb for them from that point of their campaign. The inability of their batsmen to notch up big scores consistently was the biggest sore point of their campaign. Their batsmen could only manage two centuries and that too came in the later part of the tournament. Their bowling, barring Lasith Malinga, struggled to make incisions in the opposition line ups regularly as is evident by the fact that only Malinga could manage wickets in the double digits.

What was right?

Their final standing stood at the sixth spot in the points table. They did good to better teams like South Africa, West Indies and Bangladesh, especially after the tottering start to their campaign. The performance of Lasith Malinga was the highlight of their campaign. Malinga’s performance of 13 wickets from 7 games was especially important in the light of the questions raised on his attitude towards the team prior to the tournament along with his aging body. He played an important role in all the three wins managed by the Lankan team in the tournament. The performance of Kusal Perera with the bat (273 runs -highest for Sri Lanka) was somewhat comforting although there is a huge scope of improvement there too.

Key Takeaways

Sri Lanka pulled off the biggest upset of the tournament when they tamed the red-hot favorites England in a paltry chase of 232, throwing the semi-final race open for other teams in the competition. They were able to down England with the same set of players who were earlier brushed aside as the components of a below-par side. That shows the promise of the young guns the team possesses at the moment but this promise can only blossom if the Sri Lankan Cricket Board puts some faith and makes some investment in the abilities of the players like Avishka Fernando, Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Perera, Dimuth Karunaratne etc. who can take the team forward under the guidance of experienced stalwarts like Angelo Matthews, Lasith Malinga (for the time being) and Thisara Perera.

Key Stats

Young Avishka Fernando, after a couple of promising cameos, finally came good against the West Indian attack and notched up what was the first hundred for Sri Lanka in the tournament. Kusal Perera, with his three half-centuries, topped the batting charts for Sri Lanka with 273 runs but he needs to take some more responsibility at the top to convert the promising starts into big knocks. Malinga was the pick of the bowlers with 13 wickets coming at a fairly decent 28.69 runs apiece. The disappointment lay with the other bowlers who couldn’t breach the double digits in their individual wickets’ column.

What could change?

Thisara Perera’s all-round performance was the biggest disappointment of the Sri Lankan campaign. He averaged 207 with the ball for his lone wicket in the tournament while averaging an ignominious 10.16 runs per inning for his 6 appearances on the field. He will be the talking point of review for sure. But above all, Sri Lanka will sweat over the void which will be generated by the absence of Lasith Malinga who for all certainty played his last World Cup. Players like Nuwan Pradeep, Kasun Rajitha and Sri Lanka’s find of the South African tour Vishwa Fernando will have to step up to fill in that huge void. 

Tags : #Sri Lanka # ICC CWC 2019