Dasun Shanaka (c), Kusal Mendis (vc), Kusal Perera, Pathum Nissanka, Lahiru Kumara, Dimuth Karunaratne, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Maheesh Theekshana, Dunith Wellalage, Kasun Rajitha, Matheesha Pathirana, Dilshan Madushanka, Dushan Hemantha.
Historic Triumph in 1996
Under the dynamic leadership of Arjuna Ranatunga, Sri Lanka clinched the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 1996, showcasing a unique style of cricket. The opening duo of Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana exploited the initial 15 overs of fielding restrictions, leaving opponents in disarray. Sri Lanka dominated the group stages, despite Australia and West Indies forfeiting their matches due to security concerns. Their batting prowess was on full display as they comfortably defeated Zimbabwe and India, and set a world record for the highest team score in ODIs against Kenya. A memorable quarter-final against England saw Jayasuriya’s rapid 82 off 44 balls. The semi-final win was controversial, but the final saw Aravinda de Silva’s all-round performance leading Sri Lanka to their first-ever World Cup victory.
Recent ODI Performance
(Most recent first): L W L W W W W W W W
- vs South Africa – 7 October, Delhi
- vs Pakistan – 10 October, Hyderabad
- vs Australia – 16 October, Lucknow
- vs Netherlands – 21 October, Lucknow
- vs England – 26 October, Bengaluru
- vs Afghanistan – 30 October, Pune
- vs India – 2 November, Mumbai
- vs Bangladesh – 6 November, Delhi
- vs New Zealand – 9 November, Bengaluru
Crucial Match: vs South Africa
The tournament opener against South Africa in Delhi promises to be a thrilling contest between Sri Lanka’s talented spinners and South Africa’s proven ability to handle quality spin. The Arun Jaitley Stadium traditionally favours spinners, but the short boundaries should provide an exciting battle between bat and ball. Despite South Africa’s historical dominance in ODIs, Sri Lanka’s recent 2-1 victory in a home series in 2021 could give them the edge. A strong start in the World Cup is crucial for Sri Lanka to build momentum.
Key Player: Maheesh Theekshana
With the absence of star spinner Wanindu Hasaranga and ace pacer Dushmantha Chameera, Maheesh Theekshana will lead Sri Lanka’s relatively inexperienced bowling line-up. Despite making his ODI debut in 2021, Theekshana has quickly become a reliable player for captain Dasun Shanaka. Theekshana’s impressive wicket-taking ability and his skill in bowling during the Powerplay could be crucial in the Indian conditions. His recent form and IPL experience make him a key player for Sri Lanka in the World Cup.
Outlook for Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s World Cup 2023 campaign has been marred by injuries, with key bowlers Hasaranga and Chameera missing out. Despite these setbacks, Sri Lanka’s form leading into the tournament is encouraging. They enjoyed an impressive unbeaten streak of 13 consecutive ODI wins from June to September this year. With their key bowlers missing, Sri Lanka’s batting lineup will need to step up in the World Cup. The team boasts a balanced batting unit, with experienced players like Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Mendis and Kusal Perera, and young talents like Pathum Nissanka and Sadeera Samarawickrama. The team’s success could hinge on Dhananjaya de Silva’s all-round performance and the spin-bowling duo of Theekshana and Dunith Wellalage. Despite the challenges, the lack of pressure could work in Sri Lanka’s favour, as demonstrated by their performance at the Asia Cup last year.