Sri Lanka’s performances during the last 12 to 18 months have gone from bad to worse. If you take away the West Indies, no other major side has lost more money for cricket betting fans. They enter the 2019 World Cup with very low expectations even from even their die-hard fans, who have been let down continuously in all formats of the game.
The cricket bookmakers don’t give Sri Lanka much of a chance either, with sites such as Bet365 and Betway having them down as long shots. The 1996 World Cup Champions have simply forgotten how to win consistently. Since the 2015 World Cup have played a total of 84 ODIs, losing 55 and winning a paltry 23.
Almost every cricket team playing at the 2019 World Cup have made their preparations and selected their captain well in advance. Therefore they have the familiarity of playing under a designated captain.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, have prevaricated. They have experimented with the captaincy and remarkably there was still speculation as to who might captain the team when the World Cup begins as recently as last month. The Sri Lankan Cricket board had a few senior players who could do the job – Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal were three options – but opener Dimuth Karunaratne was the board’s favourite.
Karunaratne does not have a lot of experience captaining the side, although he did a good job during the Test Series in South Africa. He will need to lead from the front and get the respect of his senior players. The problem, however, is that he hadn’t played an ODI for four years before being named as captain.
Dissent Within The Side
Sri Lankan cricket has been in decline for a number of years. When you have so many ex-captains in the same side (you can add Perera’s name to the aforementioned trio) and no established leader, things can quickly go out of control
There has even been dissent between the players and their spouses on social media. This has been far from ideal. Earlier this year there was a social media argument between the wife Malinga and Perera’s wives.
Karunaratne was also involved in a drunk driving accident earlier this month, and he was hit with a stiff fine by the Sri Lankan Cricket board. This is not the kind of example the captain should set, and it makes it difficult for the youngsters to look up to Karunaratne.
Injury And Form Concerns
Some of Sri Lanka’s top players have had to deal with major injuries during the last 12 months. Mathews has had his fair share of injuries over the years which has limited his performance as a top all-rounder. Meanwhile, Chandimal’s issues have kept him out of the side and his form is somewhat under a cloud.
Meanwhile, despite his heroics in the IPL final, Malinga is no longer the bowler he used to be. While he tries with all his heart, he will turn 36 in August and has confirmed that he will retire in 2020.
English Conditions Won’t Help
This current Sri Lankan team would’ve posed a stiffer challenge if the World Cup was taking place in the sub-continent. However, given the swing and seam in England, it is going to be very difficult for a shaky Sri Lankan batting line-up to post big totals with consistency. And if conditions are good for batting, their bowling may struggle to contain the opposition.
Their spinners might also struggle to spin and flight the ball, which puts extra pressure on their underperforming crop of fast-bowlers. Sri Lanka will not have a lot of time to adapt to the conditions, and it if they are under prepared, they could be eliminated before the quarter-finals.
Conclusion: Sri Lanka will have to gel as a unit and put aside their personal differences to exceed expectations at this World Cup. Sadly, this proud island’s cricketers are long shots to win the trophy this time.