Sri Lanka will have their work cut out for 2023 World Cup

Wednesday, 18 January 2023 01:30 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

From left: Sri Lanka head coach Chris Silverwood with Sri Lanka player Wanindu Hasaranga and Sri Lanka white ball captain Dasun Shanaka

  • Only 6 ODIs scheduled in lead up to mega event  

By Sa’adi Thawfeeq

Sri Lanka’s preparations for the upcoming 2023 fifty-over cricket World Cup in India took a severe battering when they were whitewashed 3-0 by India in the recently concluded three-match ODI series.

To make matters even worse, Sri Lanka’s international calendar for the rest of the current year has only a three-match ODI series in New Zealand in March to prepare themselves for the World Cup which takes place in India from October.

With only six bilateral ODIs scheduled ahead of the Asia Cup and World Cup, Sri Lanka will certainly have their work cut out in their preparations for the mega event.

In the Asia Cup (which will be a 50-over affair) Sri Lanka may play an additional 4-5 matches, but it still leaves them very much short of India who have 15 bilateral ODIs scheduled (other than the Asia Cup) to prepare themselves for the World Cup. They commenced the year with the just concluded ODI series against Sri Lanka and will follow it up with three-match ODI series against New Zealand, Australia (twice), and West Indies giving the host enough international competition before they finalise their squad of 15 players.

“Everyone wants to play India,” said Sri Lanka Cricket CEO Ashley de Silva giving reasons for the paucity of ODIs. "We are trying to play a series with Ireland, but it is not confirmed as yet.”

The way Sri Lanka are performing at the moment, no team would want to play them.

During Sri Lanka’s tour of India, it was reported on social media that BCCI sources had confirmed that Star India has asked the BCCI for a Rs. 130 crores discount in the existing deal for broadcasting the tour by Sri Lanka to India. The series was proving to be a complete washout for the official broadcaster Star Sports and Disney+ Hotstar. According to sources, Disney Star will lose almost 200 Cr on the series.

How Sri Lanka will get about trying to decide on their squad for the World Cup will be quite interesting, as the New Zealand series is too early for that.   

The manner in which Sri Lanka performed against India, showed the massive gap that exists between the fourth ranked team and eighth ranked side. Sri Lanka were completely outplayed in all departments of the game and the way they performed in the three matches, they were like novices, to say the least.

The national selectors policy to overlook experienced players and pick a young side for the ODI games completely backfired on them. They should take a leaf out of the Indian selectors who kept out experienced players like Rohit Sharma (238 ODIs) and Virat Kohli (268) from the T20I series against Sri Lanka, but brought them back for the ODIs.

The return of these players with tons of experience behind them was the key to India overwhelming their opponents. The highest capped ODI player for Sri Lanka was Kusal Mendis with 93 matches, whereas experienced players like Angelo Mathews (218) and Dinesh Chandimal (157) were left to cool their heels at home. What the Sri Lankan batting order lacked was experience in the middle which the younger players were short of to counter the strong Indian bowling in their own backyard.

While the Lankan batsmen lacked patience to build an innings after getting starts, the bowlers were found to be inconsistent with their lines and lengths. They hardly bowled six balls wicket to wicket whereas the Indian bowlers were always there or thereabouts. There were too many dot balls too for Sri Lanka’s liking – a percentage of 58.52 in the series.

The batsmen have still not found the art of hitting the ball to gaps and running the singles. By not doing so, they bring enormous pressure onto themselves and when it builds up, they try to hit their way out by going for big hits which eventually leads to their downfall.

Sri Lanka’s head coach Chris Silverwood said: “Watching how the Indian bowlers operated in their own conditions has been an eye-opener for some of our guys. The way the fast bowlers operate, hitting the length hard consistently in good areas, it is something that we need to work on. The great thing is that we managed to get a look at that before we come back for the World Cup.”

On the batting Silverwood said: “We need to make sure that once we are off to a good start, we capitalise on that. We have to learn to post big scores. We have to make sure we learn the lessons with the bat as well as with the ball. The World Cup is back here in a few months’ time, hopefully we can address those things.”

Silverwood and his support staff will have quite a big task on their hands in getting the squad ready for the World Cup, considering where the Asia Cup champions are at the moment.