Time for some soul-searching | Daily News


Time for some soul-searching

With the 2019 Cricket World Cup over for Sri Lanka it is time to sit back and do some soul-searching and find out where it went wrong for the former champions.

From the outset of the World Cup, everyone knew that Sri Lanka was not going to be among the favourites to win the title as their form leading upto the mega event indicated. It was terrible.

So it comes as no surprise that they didn’t make it to the semi-finals of the World Cup. With one game against India to play on Saturday at Leeds, Sri Lanka has only three wins to show against their name out of the eight matches played so far.

It was their win against host England that rekindled their hopes of reaching the semi-finals and had they won their match against South Africa, who knows they could have still been in the running.

However a loss to the Proteas saw Sri Lanka’s chances dwindle and whatever slim hopes they had of making it to the last four simply vanished when England bounced back from their defeats against Sri Lanka and Australia to beat India. That win gave England five wins the same as New Zealand and India with Australia way ahead with seven.

Thus even if Sri Lanka beat West Indies as they did at Durham on Monday and India at Leeds on Saturday the maximum number of wins they can attain is four which is not good enough to get them into the last four.

In this World Cup unlike the ones before if the teams are tied on points first preference is given to the number of wins each team has racked up. The run rate comes into play only as the second option if the number of wins is equal.

Thus in that context Sri Lanka have no chance of qualifying for the semi-finals even if they beat India in their final World Cup match.

It took Sri Lanka time to settle into a proper batting unit and when they did they delivered. Openers Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Perera paired off very well, but the key to their success was young Avishka Fernando.

Playing his first World Cup Fernando brought into the batting a flair that had gone missing since the days of Mahela, Sanga and Dilshan. His batting as coach Chandika Hathurusingha described was like a ‘breath of fresh air’. It was something that the team was lacking. Fernando’s batting oozed confidence into the rest of the team.

Having begun with an aggressive 49 against England it did not take him too long to score his maiden ODI hundred. Playing only his third World Cup match Fernando scored 104 against West Indies to set up Sri Lanka’s highest total of the 2019 World Cup – 338-6, the first time they had gone past the 250-run mark.

Fernando’s fearless stroke-making against some of the best fast bowlers in the business inspired the rest of the batting. If Sri Lanka had one positive coming out of the World Cup it was the emergence of Fernando as a future player.

But overall Sri Lanka has to look to the future and take the necessary steps to uplift the standard of the national team so that there is some stability in their performances, which over the past three years especially in ODIs and T20Is been rather rickety.

Radical changes need to be made to the team management and serious thought given to whether it was the fault of the coach or the players or the team selections that saw Sri Lanka perform in the manner they did at the 2019 World Cup.

There is exciting talent in the Lankan line up but the good and the bad eggs need to be separated and a new look ODI squad needs to be picked looking ahead at the next World Cup which will be held in India in 2023.

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