Lanka should give its best shot at the World Cup | Daily News

Lanka should give its best shot at the World Cup

Sri Lanka’s one-day international record has been so dismal that no one in his right mind would give them a dog’s chance of getting anywhere close to winning the World Cup for amongst the other nine competing teams there are plenty of winners who are capable of lifting the trophy having displayed the form that is required leading upto the mega event which kicks off on May 30.

Teams like host England, India, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the West Indies are the front runners for the title because of their form displayed during the current year where each of them have a 60 percent plus win record. From the remaining four countries Afghanistan are the next best with a win percentage of 50 followed by Pakistan with 20, while Sri Lanka and Bangladesh bring up the rear with nought percentage as they have yet to record an ODI win for the year.

These figures and the ICC rankings only highlight the team strengths on paper as on any given day the unthinkable can always happen.

No one gave Sri Lanka a chance of winning the 1996 World Cup because of their dismal record in the tournament leading upto the event where they had won only four matches against 20 losses (2 no-results) from 26 World Cup games.

Aravinda de Silva, a key member of that World Cup winning side and vice-captain said, “It depends on how the whole team is playing together during the tournament. Tournaments are such that especially World Cups if the team clicks and all are in good nick it helps. It can really bring out the best of a team like what happened to us in 1996. Suddenly the team blossomed and everyone started to contribute with a lot of confidence and everything came together.”

Sri Lanka are hoping for such a miracle with the present side captained by Dimuth Karunaratne will be able to turn the fortunes of the team around as he did in the two-Test series in South Africa which Sri Lanka won to stun the cricket world as they had done in 1996, although it did not have the same impact as the World Cup because this was only a bilateral Test series between two countries. Nevertheless it made other teams wary of the underdog turning tables on the favourites that Kane Williamson the New Zealand captain went to the extent to say that, “Every team in international cricket is a threat and that anybody can beat anybody."

South Africa were expected to run over the Lankan side having thrashed Pakistan 3-0 barely a month ago, but Sri Lanka dug in deep and upset all the odds to pull off a 2-0 series sweep, a feat no other Asian country had performed in the Rainbow nation.

Sri Lanka approach the 2019 World Cup as clear underdogs going on their current form in the one-day format but they have the players to turn it around provided they jell together as one unit. That is the challenge that the captain faces. If he can get the full support of all the players and the support staff then, half the battle has been won for the team.

Like Aravinda de Silva says, “Cricket is all about confidence that’s why stability in a team is very important. The backing of the selectors and the management is of importance, trust and faith in the captain is important, all those things matter.” Most of all the players were allowed to play with a lot of freedom and express themselves without any undue pressure being brought on them.

That is the big responsibility the present management of the Sri Lanka team has - to provide the atmosphere in the dressing room as one big family caring for each other so that all that is transformed into success. They have a full three weeks in England to make that change before their first World Cup engagement against New Zealand at Cardiff on June 3.

Sports Minister Harin Fernando has given his blessings to the team and called for all the cricket fans to rally round the Lankan cricketers and afford their fullest support. It is during times like this when the team and its players are downcast and going through a rough patch that they need to be cheered and encouraged, more than when they are performing well and everything is hunky-dory.

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