Sri Lanka’s history-creating Test Captain, Dimuth Karunaratne has emerged as the most likely person to lead Sri Lanka in the upcoming World Cup in England. With the tussle for the leadership being amongst 3 senior members of the team, it is believed that Karunaratne will be named as the Captain of the 15-man squad which is to be announced on the 18th of this month.
Karunaratne, who last played an ODI for Sri Lanka back in the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, ended the recently concluded SLC Super Provincial One Day Tournament as the 5th highest run scorer, making 165 runs in 4 matches at an average of 55. In the lead up to the Provincial tournament he also scored a century for his club SSC in a SLC Major Limited Overs tournament match.
Upul Tharanga, Niroshan Dickwella and Danushka Gunathilaka, all openers with more ODI experience, failing to fire in the most recent series and in the Provincial tournament has strengthened Karunaratne’s chances of opening the batting for Sri Lanka in the World Cup, which in turn helps him stabilize his position in the team.
Sri Lanka has been unable to register even a single win under current white ball skipper Lasith Malinga, leading the selectors to look for alternatives. In the meantime Karunaratne’s leadership prowess was identified when he led an inexperienced team to a historic Test- series win in South Africa to become the first Asian Captain do so. He was the stand-in Captain for Dinesh Chandimal who had been given a break from international cricket after a streak of failures.
Apart from Karunaratne, former skipper Angelo Mathews was also tipped to be handed the captaincy for the World Cup, but he has reportedly expressed his reluctance to take over the captaincy, leaving Karunaratne as the only alternative left.
“Malinga is not a bad leader,” said Chief Selector Asantha de Mel expressing his thoughts on Lasith Malinga’s leadership to the Sunday Times. “I have no issue with his knowledge of the game and how he goes about things in the middle but he doesn’t seem to have the support of the coach and the players. Right now, what we need is someone who can get these players together. Otherwise, it would be disastrous for us.”
Speaking on Dinesh Chandimal’s chances of coming back to the ODI captaincy, the Chief Selector said, “A place in this team is even not certain for Chandimal. A captain should be assured of a place in the playing XI, but at the moment Chandimal doesn’t have that assurance.”
Keeping the Captaincy aside, selecting final 15 players to fly to England remains a very difficult task. Reportedly Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Dimuth Karunaratne, Dhananjaya De Silva, Kusal Perera, Thisara Perera, Isuru Udana, Suranga Lakmal, Kusal Mendis, Jeevan Mendis and Dushmantha Chameera are a few players who can be certain of their places in the final squad. Vice-captain Niroshan Dickwella is also expected to face the axe.