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Rediff.com  » Cricket » SWOT: Sri Lanka have an overflowing cup of worries ahead of WC

SWOT: Sri Lanka have an overflowing cup of worries ahead of WC

Source: PTI
October 04, 2023 00:23 IST
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Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's victory in the 1996 World Cup is a dusty memory now. But the Islanders will draw some inspiration from the fact their build-up to that tournament, which was also a sub-continental affair, was as chaotic as it is 27 years later.

Lanka's entry into the 2023 World Cup is marked with injuries, modest form of players and rumours of the team getting a new captain that was put to rest at the last minute.

Ahead of their tournament opener against South Africa on October 7 at New Delhi, here is Sri Lanka's SWOT analysis.

STRENGTH

Sri Lanka

Photograph: Kind Courtesy SLC/X

Sri Lanka have a slew of spinners, like they had in '96, who can do the holding-up job in the middle overs. Maheesh Theekshana will be the leader of the pack, as he has recovered from a hamstring niggle that he suffered during the Asia Cup.

He will be assisted by promising Dunith Wellalage, who is also a handy lower-order batter, Dhananjaya De Silva and Charith Asalanka. The left-arm spinner Wellalage has taken 19 wickets from 15 ODIs, and he has a knack of picking up the wickets of big opposition batters.

The return of wicketkeeper batsman Kusal Mendis has added some much-needed firepower and stability at the top of the order. They will also hope that pacer Matheesha Pathirana, the junior Lasith Malinga, can add some spice in the fast bowling department.

WEAKNESS

Sri Lanka will not have the services of leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga, their best white ball bowler by some distance, because of an injury along with frontline pacer Dushmantha Chameera. They were injured during the Lanka Premier League 2023.

Lahiru Kumara has been included in the side but it remains to be seen whether the pacer can chip in effectively after returning from an injury layoff.

But their biggest concern will be the form of regular opener Pathum Nissanka, who seemed to have tapered off in ODIs, and the batting form of captain Dasun Shanaka.

Shanaka's finest moment remains a hundred he made against India earlier this year albeit in a losing cause, and before and after that innings his batting does not even worth a mention.

OPPORTUNITY

The biggest solace for Sri Lanka will be their awareness of the conditions, venues in India and the presence of players who can potentially exploit it to their advantage. Their previous outing in a subcontinental World Cup had earned the Lankans a runners-up place in 2011 under Mahela Jayawardene.

Shanaka is a much-respected captain within the dressing room like Jayawardene, and if his wards can back him effectively then Sri Lanka can dream of a good run in the World Cup once again.

THREAT

Sri Lanka have an underwhelming record in ICC tournaments post their triumph in the 2014 T20 World Cup. Since that epochal moment, the Lankans have never managed to enter the knockout phase of any of the subsequent global events.

They also have a number of players, including Shanaka, who are playing in their first 50-over World Cup, and they need to tame the pressures of the biggest cricketing stage.

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