Sri Lanka exceed expectations, yet manage to disappoint

CWC19 | Player Ratings

1371

With just 24 wins and 55 losses between World Cups, Sri Lanka were given absolutely no chance at this year’s championship. But the men in Blue somehow always manage to turn up at big tournaments and they split the World Cup wide open when they managed to defeat World No. 1 England at Headingly. However briefly, Sri Lanka were in the hunt for a semi-final berth at one point and ended up at a respectable 6th place overall. Despite this, the manner in which they folded against New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and India left much to be desired. Sri Lanka were a solid 6/10 as a whole, but how did the players fair individually?

The Batsmen

Avishka Fernando – 8.5/10

Matches Runs HS AV S/R 50/100 Ct/St
4 203 104 50.75 105.72 0/1 0/0

Avishka Fernando caught the eye of one and all and turned out to be one of the breakout young stars of the tournament. From his very first innings against England, 5 games into Sri Lanka’s campaign, he was impressive, striking the ball well. A key attribute has been his ability to pick up length quickly and some of the shots he played will be sure to make the tournaments’ highlight reel. He will be disappointed with some of his dismissals, particularly against India and England, but all in all, it was a pretty special tournament for the 21-year-old.

Kusal Perera – 8/10

Matches Runs HS AV S/R 50/100 Ct/St
7 273 78 39.00 110.97 3/0 7/0

Kusal Perera began the tournament batting at No. 3 but was moved up to the opening position alongside Karunaratne in the 2nd game and didn’t look back. The left-hander finished the tournament with the highest strike-rate in the 1st Powerplay and was responsible for many of the good starts Sri Lanka got. He impressed during his 3 half centuries but will be bitterly disappointed that he was unable to kick on, being dismissed chiefly due to bad shots, rather than good bowling. Having taken up the keeping duties to prevent further injuries to his hamstring, Perera was quite impressive behind the stumps as well, doing justice to the choice by the management.

Angelo Mathews – 7.5/10

Matches Runs HS AV S/R 50/100 Ct/St
7 244 113 40.66 77.70 1/1 2/0

 

Matches Overs Runs Wkts BBI Av Econ
1 2 6 1 1/6 6.00 3.00

One of Sri Lanka’s big hopes in the tournament, Angelo Mathews delivered in stops and starts for the team. In that sense, it is a little difficult to rate his performance in the tournament as much is always expected of him. His 85 against England turned out to be a match winning knock, but the former captain just didn’t show up in the crunch games against Australia and South Africa. Then he bowled the ‘ball of the tournament’ for Sri Lanka against West Indies, coming on with literally no bowling practice under his belt, to pick up a crucial wicket when captain Karunaratne had no one else to turn to. A hundred on what looked to be a difficult pitch at Leeds against India was a nice touch to end an up and down World Cup, but Mathews himself would probably have wanted more from the tournament as a whole.

Dimuth Karunaratne – 7/10

Matches Runs HS AV S/R 50/100 Ct/St
7 222 97 37.00 71.38 2/0 2/0

Coming into the ODI team after 4 years, Karunaratne was thrown into the deep end with the captaincy landed on him. There were many doubts about his ability to score fast enough, but it’s safe to say that, at least for the time being, Sri Lanka have found their opening pairing in Karunaratne and Kusal Perera. A highest of 97 came against the formidable Australian bowling line-up, but the strike-rate is something he will be looking to improve on. His captaincy too proved to be pretty decent, particularly in the way he handled the former captains in the XI. Unfortunately, the form he showed early in the tournament deserted him during the crunch games, when Sri Lanka were fighting for a spot in the top 4.

Lahiru Thirimanne – 7/10

Matches Runs HS AV S/R 50/100 Ct/St
5 143 53 35.75 87.73 1/0 0/0

One more ‘backwards’ selection from the selection committee, but Thirimanne managed to make something out of it, particularly in the latter half of the tournament. More of a top order batter, he was given the tough task of batting in the lower-middle order in the final two games, where he accumulated 98 of his 143 runs. His innings of 45 against the West Indies was particularly impressive, while his only half-century of the tournament also came at a crucial stage.

Kusal Mendis – 4/10

Matches Runs HS AV S/R 50/100 Ct/St
7 143 46 20.42 67.13 0/0 1/0

Fair to say it’s been a pretty poor tournament for Kusal Mendis. He was one the men Sri Lanka would have hoped would get going in the championship, but it never happened. The only game where he looked anywhere near comfortable, was when he got 39 off 41 deliveries against West Indies, looking out of sorts in the rest of the games, despite getting a few starts. What was perhaps even more disappointing was his fielding. Usually one of Sri Lanka’s better catchers, particularly in the slips, he put down a number of crucial catches in the tournament.


The Bowlers

Lasith Malinga – 9/10

Matches Overs Runs Wkts BBI Av Econ
7 61.4 373 13 4/43 28.69 6.04

People thought he was done – too fat, too old, too slow to be successful at the highest level, but Malinga made a statement in this World Cup. More or less carrying Sri Lanka’s bowling attack on his shoulders, he took twice as many wickets for Sri Lanka in this campaign as the guy in 2nd place (Udana – 6 wickets). What’s more, he would probably have had 4-5 more wickets if Sri Lanka’s catching was half-way decent. Many questioned his commitment to the team’s cause, but Malinga left it all out there and was probably the biggest reason Sri Lanka finished as high as 6th in the league table. The spell against England was one to savor and the wicket of Jos Buttler, in particular, defined his genius. 

Nuwan Pradeep – 7/10 

Matches Overs Runs Wkts BBI Av Econ Ct/St
3 29 157 5 4/31 31.40 5.41 0/0

Pradeep didn’t play the first game of the tournament but made an impact as soon as he got into the team, claiming figures of 4/31 against Afghanistan. It was a crucial bowling performance, against a team who Sri Lanka would have desperately wanted to beat. Unfortunately, a familiar fate awaited him, as that old foe injury struck not once, but twice in the tournament. He was ruled out of a couple of games due to a fractured finger, fortunately for Sri Lanka, both games were washed out. But then chicken pox struck to take him out of the tournament completely. Although he didn’t pick up too many wickets after the game against Afghanistan, he did keep things tight against England as Sri Lanka won a low-scoring thriller.

Kasun Rajitha – 4/10

Matches Overs Runs Wkts BBI Av Econ
2 18 123 2 1/47 61.50 6.83

Brought in as a replacement for Nuwan Pradeep, Rajitha wasn’t convincing with the new ball in both games he played. Known as a guy who can move the ball, he didn’t hit the right lengths in either game often enough to be threatening. One redeeming factor for the youngster was his dismissal of Chris Gayle, a key strike as the Windies looked to chase down 338.

Suranga Lakmal – 3/10

Matches Overs Runs Wkts BBI Av Econ Ct/St
3 16 102 0 6.37 0/0

Another senior man, who just did not show up. He bowled well against Afghanistan for no reward but looked pedestrian against New Zealand and South Africa, Sri Lanka’s fielding didn’t help his cause either. Overall a forgettable World Cup for Sri Lanka’s leading fast bowler in Tests. 

Jeffrey Vandersay – 2/10

Matches Overs Runs Wkts BBI Av Econ Ct/St
1 7 50 1 1/50 50.00 7.14 1/0

A couple of years ago, it was almost a given that Vandersay would be Sri Lanka’s lead spinner after Rangana Herath. However, a couple of injuries and the failure to make the most of opportunities given, has meant that he has spent a lot of time carrying drinks. In the one game he was given a go, Vandersay certainly looked like he had spent a lot of time carrying drinks. He just could not get his length or line right against the Windies and it was back to the bench in the next game. You’ve got to feel for the guy, who was playing his 1st competitive game in over a month, but at this level, you expect players to get right back into it and he was unable to do so.


The All-Rounders

Isuru Udana – 7/10

Matches Runs HS AV S/R 50/100 Ct/St
7 45 17 7.50 60.00 0/0 3/0

 

Matches Overs Runs Wkts BBI Av Econ
7 51.3 296 6 2/41 49.33 5.74

Udana was one of the key players in the team with the all-round skills he has on offer and did very little wrong in the field, barring that one dropped catch in the game against the West Indies. He was decent with the ball too, despite not taking as many wickets as Sri Lanka would have liked. His death over skills weren’t really tested, with Sri Lanka not managing enough runs on the board on many occasions. It was his batting however that was the biggest disappointment. Having made some big runs against South Africa in the series leading up to the World Cup, Udana was expected to function as the finisher for Sri Lanka alongside Thisara Perera, but he will be bitterly disappointed with his returns of 45 runs in 7 innings.

Dhananjaya de Silva – 7/10

Matches Runs HS AV S/R 50/100 Ct/St
7 108 29* 27.00 62.06 0/0 0/0

 

Matches Overs Runs Wkts BBI Av Econ
7 37 197 5 3/32 39.40 5.32

A batsman for nearly his entire career, de Silva was entrusted with the responsibility of being Sri Lanka’s frontline spinner at this tournament. Although he performed better than many would have expected with the ball, batting at No. 6 or 7, he was just not able to provide Sri Lanka with the kind of knocks you would expect from a guy coming in at the back end of the innings. His bowling against England where he picked up 3 crucial late wickets and his spell early on against the West Indies were his best performances of the tournament, but one can’t help but feel like Sri Lanka are missing a trick by trying to utilize him as a specialist bowler instead of a top order batsman.

Thisara Perera – 4/10

Matches Runs HS AV S/R 50/100 Ct/St
6 61 27 10.16 95.31 0/0 2/0

 

Matches Overs Runs Wkts BBI Av Econ
6 40.2 207 1 1/19 207.00 5.13

Thisara Perera has long been considered one of Sri Lanka’s best all-rounders. A powerful hitter and a man who can bowl some decent medium pace, Perera has the potential to be even the best all-rounder in the world, however, time after time, he’s come up short. He wasn’t terrible in the World Cup, but just did not produce anything noteworthy in any of the 6 games he played. An economical spell against India in the final of game of the tournament was his best performance.

Milinda Siriwardene – 2/10

Matches Runs HS AV S/R 50/100 Ct/St
1 3 3 3.00 75 0/0 1/0

 

Matches Overs Runs Wkts BBI Av Econ
1 2 17 0 8.50

Another man who raised eyebrows when named in the World Cup squad, Siriwardene was unable to cash in on the only opportunity he was given. Facing Mitchell Starc in his 1st ODI since October 2017, he looked completely at sea and was dispatched back to the pavilion in no time. Another man picked for his all-round abilities, he could do no justice to his selection with bat nor ball.

Jeewan Mendis – 1/10

Matches Runs HS AV S/R 50/100 Ct/St
3 19 18 6.33 37.25 0/0 0/0

 

Matches Overs Runs Wkts BBI Av Econ
3 11.1 70 0 6.26

Have we seen the last of Jeewan Mendis in Sri Lankan colors? His record at the World Cup seems to suggest so! The leg-spinning all-rounder was picked in the squad after a reasonably good performance with both bat and ball in the Provincial tournament held just before the World Cup but looked completely out of his depth against quality opposition. He got the nod ahead of the other leg-spinner in the squad Jeffrey Vandersay because of his batting, but Mendis did nothing to prove his worth with either bat or ball.