Top 8 Teams for the ICC World Cup 2015 – Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka 15-man squad for ICC World Cup 2015: Angelo Mathews (captain), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara (wicket keeper), Mahela Jayawardene, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dinesh Chandimal, Dimuth Karunaratne, Jeevan Mendis, Thisara Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Malinga, Dushmantha Chameera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Rangana Herath, Sachithra Senanayake.
Sri Lanka won the 1996 World Cup but ever since then they lost it after coming close to victory on multiple occasions. Apart from the 1999 World Cup, Sri Lanka have reached the knock-out stage of every other World Cup tournament. They reached the semi-finals of the 2003 World Cup and went on to play the finals of the 2007 and 2011 World Cups but every single time they crumbled against the opposition’s force in one-sided encounters. Sri Lanka, even though ranked 4th, rarely enter a tournament as favourites but they have still reached four finals in major tournaments in the recent past. This part of history puts them on the radar to never be underestimated in terms of what they can accomplish.
Sri Lanka have gambled with Malinga to regain his fitness after the ankle injury and carry the weight of the Sri Lankan bowling attack. Malinga has not played since September last year and it is yet to be seen when and how much Malinga can do when he returns to international cricket after so long.
Sri Lanka made no major changes to their squad and have an abundance of experience in the shape of Jayawardene, Sangakkara, Dilshan and Herath. They have gone with Dimuth Karunaratne for the opening slot instead of Upul Tharanga or Kusal Perera. He has been part of their squad for the past three series and shown good technique in recent test against New Zealand. Moreover, he was chosen by Sri Lankan selectors to anchor the innings and play off the two new balls.
In the bowling department Nuwan Kulasekara makes a comeback after being dropped against England at home after a good show in the Sri Lankan domestic season and some work on his technical flaws. Lakmal also retains his spot in the final 15. Sri Lanka chose to go with two specialist spinners Herath and Sachithra Senanayake alongside spin all-rounder Jeevan Mendis. Other all-rounders in the side are Angelo Mathews (captain), Thisara Perera and Tillakaratne Dilshan.
The batting department has been kept the same with Thirimanne and Chandimal who join Jayawardene, Sangakkara and Karunaratne. Sri Lanka suffered a setback when Dhammika Prasad fractured his hand during training and is out of the World Cup. Dushmantha Cheemera has now been announced as his replacement.
Sri Lanka have the experience of Rangana Herath, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakara and out of these the Mahela and Sanga duo is the one that’s always taken Sri Lanka over the line. Both of them announced their retirement from T20 and had a dream finish by helping Sri Lanka clinch the T20 World Cup. This time they have announced farewell to ODI cricket and hope to achieve a similar feat again. There is no doubting the greatness of both of these, Sangakara’s consistent and outstanding run while Jayawardene’s knack of scoring in the big matches.
Their announcement to retire has rejuvenated the Sri Lankan team’s spirit to accomplish what they achieved in the T20 World Cup and give Jayawardene and Sangakara a befitting gift. It can be said with certainty that if Sri Lanka manage to reach their target, Jayawardene and Sangakara will be at the center of the stage with their contributions.
Sri Lanka have placed their faith in Malinga to lead the bowling attack and be a major part of their World Cup campaign. Malinga is yet to prove his fitness and Sri Lanka are in no hurry to play him until he’s completely fit and able to play the whole of the World Cup. Malinga has to lift his game and handle the pressure to help fulfill his nation’s ambitions.
The experienced top order of the Sri Lankan batting order shows great strength. The level of consistency and dependability easily denotes Sri Lankan batting as one of the strongest. The likes of Dilshan, Sangakkara and Jayawardene are followed by the young captain and a superb finisher in Angelo Mathews. Sri Lankan batting is deep and can get even deeper with more all-rounders in the final XI since their squad consists off plenty of those. With such deep batting lineup and mounds of experience, the Sri Lankan batting is their biggest strength and very dependable. Having Herath and Malinga in the bowling also helps Sri Lanka be stronger than the rest of the Asian teams playing the World Cup.
Mathews captains the side with three ex-captains playing under him. All of them support him and their experiences in captaincy and the game can prove very helpful for the young skipper in critical situations.
Without Malinga, Sri Lankan bowling attack seems toothless. There was no point of attack in their bowling in the recent series against New Zealand. Even though the bowlers are decent, they lacked a front-line bowler to take the attack to the batting side.
Even with Malinga in the side, Sri Lanka lack a second bowler to bowl the death overs and this concern has proven difficult to handle for them. Dhamika Prasad is out of the side and now Chameera would have to get used to the conditions. With two bowlers coming straight into the tournament, its a big gamble for Sri Lanka and a lot has been left to chance.
In the recent 7 match ODI series against New Zealand and a warm-up against South Africa, Sri Lanka clearly found themselves in a tough spot as they failed to adjust to the conditions and consequently faced humiliating defeats.
Sri Lanka, even with such a strong and deep batting line-up, is having trouble posting sufficient runs on the board. They will have to settle quickly since the World Cup is about to start and the team has been trying to get acclimatized to the conditions for over a month now. With Malinga’s return there might be a spark that ignites the same stroke of form and a bit of luck that we have seen on case of Sri Lanka in the recent tournaments. They have proved time and time again that they might not be the favourites but that’s no reason to write them off.