by Rex Clementine
Yes they have got to play a qualifying round in the ICC T-20 World Cup, but thing with Sri Lanka is that they bring out their best in big tournaments. There have been seven editions of the T-20 World Cups up to now and Sri Lanka have reached finals on three of those occasions and no other team can boast of such consistency.
Not many seem to be giving the 2014 champions a chance this time but it was a similar scenario last year when they had to qualify in UAE and in the business end of the tournament they gave quite a scare and nearly made it to the semis. Had they not lost a tight game to South Africa in Sharjah, Dasun Shanaka’s side would have gone through.
Yes they will miss explosive batsmen like Kusal Perera and Avishka Fernando but don’t forget that they won the Asia Cup without the two of them. Lahiru Kumara and Dushmantha Chameera return to the side having missed the Asia Cup with injuries and when you add Dilshan Madushanka, a left-arm quick who touches 140 kmph, that’s a bowling attack that has both pace and variety.
In Wanindu Hasaranga they have one of the best bowlers in the world while Maheesh Theekshana continues to bamboozle the batsmen with his mystery. A lot of teams will find Sri Lanka a formidable attack. They are the dark horses in this competition.
While Kusal Mendis and Pathum Nissanka give them solid starts top of the order, Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Dasun Shanaka are superb finishers. Sri Lanka’s Achilees’ heel is their middle order. The experiment of Danushka Gunathilaka in the middle order hasn’t worked so far while number three slot is up for grabs with Charith Asalanaka, their best batter in the last World Cup, out of favour due to poor form.
However, the lower middle order comprising Chamika Karunaratne and Wanindu Hasaranga are making compensation for that coming up with cameos consistently.
They have been able to play Karunaratne at eight as Mendis is keeping wickets giving them that extra cushion to play the additional all-rounder and that’s a luxury for the Sri Lankans.
The other aspect that has stood out over the last few months is Sri Lanka’s fielding. Under previous Head Coach Mickey Arthur they emphasized a lot on fitness. Improved fitness levels have made them a better fielding unit as well.
The Sri Lankans arrived in Australia ten days early in a bid to get acclimatized to conditions and they have spent lot of time playing on hard, bouncy surfaces of Australia. Sri Lanka should have a good campaign in the World Cup.