The Sri Lanka national cricket team will depart the island in the early hours of 7th May, Tuesday for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in England & Wales.
They will have an extended training camp at Merchants Taylors’ School for 8 days before moving up north to play two ODIs against Scotland in Edinburgh on the 18th and 21st of May.
Thereafter the Sri Lanka team will have two more warm-up fixtures against South Africa (24th May) and Australia (27th May). They will start their World Cup campaign on the 1st of June in Cardiff against 2015 World Cup runners-up, New Zealand.
Usually when the national team departs for an ICC event, there’s much hype, excitement, hope and belief amongst everyone in the island. This time it’s completely the opposite. Understandably so, as the country is still recovering from the Easter Sunday Bombings, two weeks ago which killed over 250 people and wounded nearly 600.
“This World Cup is more important than ever. I urge all the fans to rally behind the team during these uncertain times. They are capable of doing well at the World Cup. As a nation, we need to give them all the support, blessings and confidence.” Sports Minister Harin Fernando said.
The underperforming Sri Lanka team will have a great chance at redemption. They can put smiles on the faces of 21 million people if they play to their potential and at least compete against some stiff opposition, even if they do not win the World Cup.
Sri Lanka are one of the biggest underdogs in the 12th World Cup, which is set to commence on the 30th of May. Arguably, no sane individual who follows cricket, would put their money on Sri Lanka to qualify for the knockout stage. Meanwhile, with an average age of 29.9, they are the oldest squad competing for the trophy in this edition.
Interestingly, Sri Lanka have always done reasonably well in ICC tournaments, especially in the last two decades. They have not failed to qualify for the knockout stages in the four most recent World Cups.
The island nation will head into the World Cup as the 9th ranked team after the recent ICC rankings update last week. This is the lowest ever ranking in their ODI history. But when it’s a World Cup, rankings do not really matter. It’s all about keeping momentum, handling pressure situations and staying consistent.
“Whether we are favourites or not, we prepare the same. This team has enough talent and if they can execute the game plans to the best of their ability, we can go a long way.” Sri Lanka Head Coach Chandika Hathurusingha said.
Sri Lanka’s ODI form has been alarming in the past couple of years. Since the start of 2018, Sri Lanka have won only five matches out of 23 games against the teams they will play in the World Cup. More interestingly, one third of the 15-member squad have not played ODIs in the aforementioned period, including their captain Dimuth Karunaratne.
World Cups are extraordinary events where anything can happen. But, no matter what happens, the public of Sri Lanka will need to stand behind their captain Dimuth Karunaratne and team.
“I believe I have more than enough support from the team including all the senior players. We will try and do our very best to do well in the World Cup. It’s important that the fans believe in us and give their whole-hearted backing. “ Captain Karunaratne said before leaving the island.
Nothing short of a miracle will be required from the current Sri Lanka Team if they are to overcome the upcoming grueling group stage, where they will be up against all the other participants.
Sri Lanka Squad – Dimuth Karunaratne (captain), Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Kusal Perera, Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Mendis, Isuru Udana, Milinda Siriwardana, Avishka Fernando, Jeevan Mendis, Lahiru Thirimanne, Jeffrey Vandersay, Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal
Reserves – Angelo Perera, Oshada Fernando, Kasun Rajitha, Wanindu Hasaranga
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