With only a couple of days to go for the announcement of the Sri Lanka squad for the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in England & Wales, ThePapare.com put on the Selector’s hat to name the probable 15-member team along with the 4 reserves, who will fly with the team as cover.
Out of all the ten participating nations, Sri Lanka is the only team, who don’t seem to have the faintest idea about their final playing XI for the big tournament. However, they will be assisted in making that decision when they face Scotland in 2 ODIs before the two warm-up games ahead of the World Cup.
Inconsistent performances, a string of defeats, lack of believe, and never-ending injury woes have completely hampered Sri Lanka’s limited-overs success in the past couple of years.
Since the last World Cup in 2015, Sri Lanka have played 84 ODIs, winning 23 and losing 55. Their record also includes one tied game and five that ended without a result.
In the last 12 months, Sri Lanka have won only 3 ODIs out of 20, which reflects on their poor performances in 50-over cricket.
Despite all the negativity, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) organized a provincial limited overs tournament with 4 teams last week in order to help the Selectors in finalizing the World Cup squad.
But, the returns, especially of the batsmen, have been disappointing in the local competition with only three hundreds scored, giving more questions than answers to the selectors. Surely the selectors cannot only select the team on the performances of a four-team, four-match domestic competition.
The following squad has been picked by the team at ThePapare.com, considering the form of certain players, team combinations, experience, availability due to injuries and many other factors.
The inability to give solid starts and convert those starts into big hundreds in ODIs by the Sri Lankan openers in the recent past have prompted the Selectors to look beyond some of the regular openers.
Wicket-keeper Niroshan Dickwella was persisted with for plenty of series’ in the last year or so and was also named vice-captain of the team in the most recent series. However, he is expected to be dropped after a string of low scores in the South Africa series as well as the provincial tournament.
Dimuth Karunaratne, Sri Lanka’s regular Test opening batsman, has definitely put his hand up to open the innings in the 50-over format after playing a couple of solid knocks in domestic tournaments in the past month.
He has not played ODIs since the last World Cup but is set to make a comeback again for this year’s World Cup, what an unusual occurrence that would be for the talented left-hander.
Kusal Janith Perera is on the injury list but if fit, he should definitely be on the team sheet. His devastating batting at the top of the order along with the wicket-keeping ability makes him an automatic choice. The selectors will surely take a risk and name him in the squad, subject to fitness and keep their fingers crossed that he will be recover in time for the World Cup.
Avishka Fernando and Danushka Gunathilaka will fight for the final opener’s position. But, with Avishka Fernando making a decent impression in the final series against South Africa and Gunathilaka’s failures in the provincial competition the selectors may opt to go with Fernando.
Oshada Fernando looked solid against the Proteas seamers and was one of the rare finds in what was a disappointing limited-overs leg in South Africa. Despite failing in the provincial tournament, Fernando should be included in the squad considering the fearlessness in his batting.
With Dickwella facing the axe, the selectors are also pondering a recall of Dinesh Chandimal, who was also the captain when Sri Lanka recorded their last ODI win, in October 2018. Chandimal should bat at number three or four and do the job behind the stumps.
With the talk of the town being ‘experienced heads needed’ by the selectors, Chandimal should make the squad but whether he will be included in the final XI remains to be seen.
Lahiru Thirimanne scored a hundred in the Final of the provincial tournament to stake a late claim, but considering the rest of the batting group, if Thirimanne is to be added, a more stable, attacking limited-overs player would have to be axed.
The rest of the middle order should consist of Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews and all-rounder Dhananjaya De Silva. Mathews presence in the middle order gives a huge boost to the faltering Sri Lankan batting lineup.
He has recovered from his injury woes and top scored in the recently-concluded provincial tournament and looked in fine form, slamming his third ‘List A’ hundred in the third-place play-off.
There is no doubt who will be the spearhead in the bowling department for Sri Lanka. Lasith Malinga is set to play his fourth World Cup. All his experience, skills, street-smarts and ability with the ball will be vital for Sri Lanka’s chances.
To assist Malinga, experienced seamer Suranga Lakmal should also make the cut, considering his ability to swing the ball in English conditions. But, he will have to fight for a place in the final XI.
Isuru Udana, who forced himself into the World Cup squad due to his batting prowess in South Africa along with his left-arm angle will definitely be a value addition to the Lankan bowling attack.
Thisara Perera, the fast bowling all-rounder should focus more on his bowling in the coming few weeks as he will be expected to bowl 6-8 overs during the World Cup. Both Udana and Perera will be expected to provide late over fire-works with the bat as well.
The final reserve fast bowler’s spot will be a toss-up between Dushamantha Chameera and Nuwan Pradeep. Both Chameera and Pradeep have recovered from their respective injuries and played in the provincials to prove their match fitness. But, Chameera should get the nod ahead of Pradeep due to the extra pace and bounce he produces.
Akila Dananjaya with his remodeled action was not particularly effective in South Africa. But, the selectors should persist with him due to his variations, which could come handy in the UK. Dhananjaya De Silva will also have a huge role to play as the backup spinner.
The wrist-spinners position will be a three-way tussle between Jeewan Mendis, Lakshan Sandakan and Jeffrey Vandersay. Most teams depend on their wrist-spinners to run through oppositions during the middle overs, which Sri Lanka have failed to do in recent past.
Time and time again, Sandakan has squandered the chances he’s been given. But the rise of Jeewan Mendis, especially in the Provincial Tournament, where he picked up 6 wickets in 3 games, will give plenty to think about for the selectors. His past experiences with Derbyshire should also come in handy as he looks to be picked ahead of Vandersay, who bowled well in the South Africa T20Is.
Captain & Final Say
Picking a captain is a hard choice to make between the three probables in Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews and Dimuth Karunaratne. No matter who captains the team, he will have plenty of work and thinking to do.
Sri Lanka usually punch above their weight in ICC tournaments, but, it will take some doing for Sri Lanka to qualify for the semi-finals in England & Wales.
All of you fans also have a chance to tell the world who YOU would pick to represent Sri Lanka!
Go to cwc19.thepapare.com and pick your Lions.
ThePapare’s Probable Sri Lanka Squad for World Cup – Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Dimuth Karunaratne, Dinesh Chandimal, Kusal Janith Perera, Dhananjaya De Silva, Kusal Mendis, Avishka Fernando, Jeewan Mendis, Thisara Perera, Isuru Udana, Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera, Oshada Fernando, Akila Dananjaya.
Probable Standby/Reserves for World Cup – Danushka Gunathilaka, Nuwan Pradeep, Kamindu Mendis, Lakshan Sandakan
Sri Lanka’s World Cup fixtures
- 1 June – New Zealand – Cardiff
- 4 June – Afghanistan – Cardiff
- 7 June – Pakistan – Bristol
- 11 June – Bangladesh – Bristol
- 15 June – Australia – The Oval
- 21 June – England – Leeds
- 28 June – South Africa – Chester-Le-Street
- 1 July – West Indies – Chester-Le-Street
- 6 July – India – Leeds