Despite a mediocre ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 campaign, Sri Lanka captain Kusal Mendis remained positive and already targets to qualify for the Final of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup in 2027.
Reporting from Delhi, India.
So far, Sri Lanka have lost five of their games to South Africa, Pakistan, Australia, Afghanistan and India from the seven encounters. They won two games against Netherlands and England. Sri Lanka will play their next game against Bangladesh on the 6th of November in Delhi before ending the campaign on the 9th of November against the Kiwis in Bangalore.
“As the captain, I am very disappointed with how we played the previous game against India. We cannot always dwell on the past because we still have two more games to play. It’s not easy to completely forget that below-par performance against India but we’ve identified our mistakes and we hope to bounce back. Our aim is to win the last two games and finish the campaign on a high.” Mendis said.
Sri Lanka’s inexperienced bowlers were exposed heavily so far with three teams scoring at the excess of 340. However, the shining light of Sri Lanka’s bowling attack has been the success of left-arm seamer Dilshan Madushanka, who has picked up 18 wickets in 7 games. The 23-year-old is currently the number two in the most wickets takers list.
Number four batter Sadeera Samarawickrama has been Sri Lanka’s highest run-getter so far, averaging 66. He has amassed 331 runs in 7 games with one century and a couple of half-centuries.
With most of the players still in their 20s, Mendis reckons that this team can reach the final in the 2027 edition of the 50-over World Cup, scheduled to be held in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia.
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“We had to do well in the Qualifiers to be here and I believe we did quite reasonably, especially in the first few games. Even though we lost the last two games (Against Afghanistan and India), I strongly believe that this team can reach the final in the next World Cup. The youngsters have done reasonably well so as a team, I think we can go a long way in the future. Dilshan Madushanka has been bowling really well. Even during the T20 Asia Cup last year, he bowled superbly. It’s a massive positive that a fast bowler has excelled in Indian conditions and he’s amongst the highest wicket-takers of the competition. Even though he was out of the team for several years, Sadeera Samarawickrama has done what the team requires from him in his first World Cup. I am very pleased that he has identified his role in the team and played accordingly.” Mendis spoke about the positives in the campaign so far and the
After cancelling their first training session scheduled for Saturday, Sri Lanka team conducted their first training session in Delhi despite the high levels of air pollution.
“We’ll practice tonight and see the conditions. However, we will take the advice of ICC doctors and our own doctors to determine the situation before taking the field tomorrow. “ Mendis said on the eve of the Bangladesh match.
“We didn’t make a request to change [venue], but we were just asking ICC what happens because when we came here, we saw that the Bangladesh team has cancelled, and we saw the outside environment. So, we just asked them what’s the plan. So, they said they will have a discussion, and then they’ll come back. And I think they have installed some equipment here, and they’ve got specialists to check, and they are helping him out. So, they have already informed us that they are planning to go ahead. So, we will do exactly what the ICC tells us to do.” Sri Lanka Team Manager Mahinda Halangoda answered a query whether Sri Lanka made a request to change the venue for the Bangladesh game due to the high levels of air pollution in Delhi.
Sri Lanka came on top in recent times against Bangladesh as they secured 42 wins in 53 matches while the Tigers won in only 9 outings in the ODI format. However, the Asian rivals met each other on just three occasions in ODI World Cup history where the Lankan Lions won all of them. In the recent Asia Cup, Sri Lanka defeated Bangladesh twice on their way to qualify for the final. Sri Lanka will require a win to secure their qualification for the 2025 Champions Trophy in Pakistan.
“We have played Bangladesh many times this year itself. This is a very important game for us because of the Champions Trophy qualification scenario but we don’t expect to make many changes for this match. As the captain, I believe, as a team, we always bounce back when our backs are against the wall.” Mendis further stated.