A Super 12 Round exit was perhaps the most expected result for Sri Lanka at the Men’s T20 World Cup 2022, however, a loss against Namibia and the failure to beat any of the ‘bigger’ nations, will see this campaign going down as one where the side failed to meet expectations as a group.
Here’s a look at how we would grade the Sri Lankan players’ performances
Grade – B+
Players – Wanindu Hasaranga, Dhananjaya de Silva and Maheesh Theekshana
Wanindu Hasaranga was prolific once again with ball in hand, finishing the tournament with 15 wickets in 8 games. The leggie was brilliant in all except one game, versus Australia, where he went for 50+ runs for the 1st time in his career. He picked up 3-wicket hauls against the Netherlands, UAE and Afghanistan and overall managed an economy of 6.41, exceptional numbers in T20Is. However, if there’s one flaw to point out in him, it was his batting. Coming in at No. 7, Hasaranga could not get into double figures even once in the tournament, not ideal in any circumstance.
On the other hand, Dhananjaya de Silva had a very good tournament as an all-rounder, bringing in decent numbers with both bat and ball. Despite not being part of Sri Lanka’s T20I setup for much of the last 12 months, he was able to fulfill his role in most games, getting some valuable runs and also some important wickets. De Silva was also excellent in the field, in what was a very sloppy campaign for Sri Lanka in terms of fielding. With 177 runs with the bat (3rd highest for SL) and 6 wickets at a better strike rate than Hasaranga (12.1), he was definitely Sri Lanka’s all-rounder of the tournament.
Maheesh Theekshana often flies under the radar, especially with Hasaranga grabbing all the headlines. Like he has done so well throughout the last 12-18 months, he delivered with the ball for Sri Lanka. With 9 wickets under his belt at an economy rate under 7, he certainly
played his part, especially considering the fact that he bowled predominantly during periods when the batters were looking to go after the bowling (powerplay + death). Sri Lanka would have hoped for a couple more wickets from him, especially early in the innings.
Grade – B
Players – Kusal Mendis, Pathum Nissanka and Lahiru Kumara
Kusal Mendis is Sri Lanka’s highest run-getter of this edition of the World Cup. The right-hander seems to have finally found his pace in T20Is and looks to be enjoying the role of wicket-keeper/opening batter. He made 2 half centuries in the tournament and finished with an aggregate of 223 runs at a strike rate of 142.94. If there was something to fault him for, it would be that he failed to get any significant scores against the higher ranked sides, where a decent performance from him could have been the difference between a win and a loss.
Mendis’ partner Pathum Nissanka had a relatively decent competition as well, though his struggles with pacing his innings remain. His last knock was perhaps his best of the tournament, as he looked to take on the bowling early on and gave Sri Lanka a very good start, which the middle order ended up botching. Nissanka’s biggest disappointment however came in the field, him dropping Glenn Phillips, perhaps the most costly miss for Sri Lanka in the competition where they struggled in the field. Nissanka finished with 214 runs at a strike rate of 109.18.
Lahiru Kumara may come in with a B here, but he was one the biggest positives for Sri Lanka in the tournament. Having returned to the squad for the first time since March of this year, there were many question-marks over his fitness and reliability when he eventually did get an opportunity to feature for the side. Despite not being at his quickest, he troubled the batters with pace and his spell versus Australia in Perth is perhaps one of the most memorable moments of the competition for Sri Lanka. He ended with 7 wickets in 6 games at the strike rate of 17.2.
Grade – C
Players – Pramod Madushan, Binura Fernando, Kasun Rajitha and Charith Asalanka
Of the three quicks, 2 suffered injuries during the tournament, severely hampering their performances. All three had some good spells and some ordinary ones throughout the tournament. Rajitha looked the closest to the finished product of the three, troubling the batters with the new ball, but his death bowling left a lot to be desired. Each played only 3 games, picking up 8 wickets between them.
Charith Asalanka didn’t start the tournament but came into the side with the injury to Danishka Gunathilake. There were some welcome signs of form on and off and some useful cameos, but overall he had little positive impact on Sri Lanka’s fortunes.
Grade – C-
Players – Dasun Shanaka, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Chamika Karunaratne
Much was expected from the middle-order trio, who were expected to be key to Sri Lanka’s success, but it just wasn’t to be. Rajapaksa showed glimpses of form here and there but could not put together a match-winning performance, while both Shanaka and Karunaratne had forgettable tournaments altogether
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