Lanka’s current ODI ranking no laughing matter | Daily News

Lanka’s current ODI ranking no laughing matter

At the conclusion of the ICC Champions Trophy Sri Lanka find themselves precariously placed eighth in the ICC ODI Team Rankings with 93 points, one point behind seventh placed Bangladesh (94) and two points behind sixth placed Pakistan (95).

Why we say that Sri Lanka are insecure in that position is that unless they manage to remain in eighth place or rather try and improve on it by September 30, 2017 they may have to qualify as one of the participating teams for the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England.

The ICC rules for qualification are quite clear that by the end of the deadline date, only the top eight ranked ODI teams will automatically qualify. The teams ranked below eight will have to go through a 2018 ICC World Cup qualifier to be held in Ireland and Scotland.

Since the Cricket World Cup began in 1975, all the Test playing nations gained automatic qualification regardless of their rankings.

This new World Cup qualification structure was introduced after the ICC decided to reduce the number of participating teams for the 2019 World Cup from 14 to 10 where at least two Test playing nations will need to play in the qualifying tournament. This could possibly lead to a Test playing nation missing the World Cup for the first time.

As it is the countries ranked below Sri Lanka are West Indies, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Ireland. These four countries will be joined by the top four teams from the 2015-17 ICC World Cricket League Championship and the two finalists of the 2018 ICC World Cricket League Division Two making a total of 10 teams for the qualifying tournament. This means at most two associate teams can qualify for the 2019 World Cup or none if beaten by the Test playing nations.

The two Test playing nations in the bottom four currently are West Indies (placed 9th) and Zimbabwe (placed 11th).

Sri Lanka has a slight advantage over their nearest rivals West Indies as they have a 16-point gap separating the two teams (93-77). But it could easily change if West Indies win their next few international engagements leading upto September 30 against India at home (5 ODIs), Ireland away (1 ODI) and England away (5 ODIs).

Sri Lanka on the other hand hosts Zimbabwe and India at home and have a five-match ODI series against each team before the September deadline. Both Pakistan (6th) with 95 points and Bangladesh (7th) with 94 points have no ODI engagements prior to that date and if Sri Lanka can win both series they can easily advance to sixth place.

It is no surprise that knowing the gravity of the problem that lies ahead of them the Sri Lankan cricket authorities made alterations to the initial itinerary that comprised two Tests and three ODIs and replaced it with one Test and five ODIs – thus giving more weightage to ODI cricket to improve their rankings.

It’s not surprising either to hear the Sri Lanka team Cricket Manager Asanka Gurusinha being quoted saying, “We must keep in mind the rankings. We must give it our best shot at improving it.”

The impression that one gets by that statement is that Sri Lanka will leave no holds barred but put out a full strength side for the Zimbabwe series in an attempt to win it 5-0 - not that the performance would improve their rankings greatly against a team ranked lower than them, but it is some consolation towards gaining a few valuable points. Sri Lanka would gain a lot if they can beat India in an ODI series at home, something which they have not done since 1997.

In any other circumstance the series against a weak side like Zimbabwe would have been the ideal opportunity for Sri Lanka to give exposure to youngsters who would gain a lot playing against foreign opposition. But the national ODI team’s current status is such that Sri Lanka is forced to forego such a chance, maybe they might if they manage to win the first three ODIs and secure the series.

Since the present cricket administration took office in January 2016, Sri Lanka’s cricketing stocks has plummeted to its lowest depth being ranked eighth in both ODIs and T20 Internationals and seventh in the Tests despite the vast amounts of money they have spent in supplementing the team with foreign support staff.

Sri Lanka’s worst performance has come in the ODIs where since January 2016, they have lost 16 of the 28 matches played and won only eight for a success rate of 28.57 percent.

The team’s failure to get beyond the first stage of the recently concluded ICC Champions Trophy was a bitter blow to the administration who was hoping to cover up their flaws by trying to ride on the back of the national team’s success.


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