Sri Lanka officially unveiled their squad for the ICC World Cup 2023 on September 26. The team, led by Dasun Shanaka, will be facing the tournament without the services of Wanindu Hasaranga. Shanaka, an all-rounder, will need to step up as a leader, especially since his individual performance hasn’t been at its peak recently. Despite having a promising lineup on paper, the real challenge for the 1996 World Cup winners lies in their performance against stronger teams and achieving greater consistency, particularly in their batting.

Although Sri Lanka boasts a varied bowling attack, the absence of Hasaranga is a notable setback.

One of the pressing questions surrounding Sri Lanka is whether they can make a significant impact on the global stage. They suffered a comprehensive defeat at the hands of India in the Asia Cup final, a result that stung. However, they previously exhibited their capabilities by dismissing their opposition in 13 consecutive matches. Furthermore, they emerged as champions in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers without suffering a single loss. Shanaka is likely to remind his team of these accomplishments and encourage them to build on these moments.

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Sri Lanka’s campaign in the ICC World Cup began on October 7 against South Africa.

Let’s delve into the composition of Sri Lanka’s 15-member ICC World Cup squad:

Sri Lanka squad: Dasun Shanaka (captain), Kusal Mendis (vice-captain), Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Perera, Dimuth Karunaratne, Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya De Silva, Dushan Hemantha, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Dunith Wellalage, Kasun Rajitha, Maheesh Theekshana, Matheesha Pathirana, Lahiru Kumara, and Dilshan Madushanka.

The absence of Hasaranga, a standout performer in white-ball cricket, is a significant setback.

Strengths of the Sri Lanka cricket team:

  • Kusal Mendis and Pathum Nissanka are crucial batting options. Mendis has notched up 3215 runs in 112 games, and his role at number three is pivotal. Nissanka’s elegant stroke play has the potential to set the tone for Sri Lanka.
  • Sadeera Samarawickrama is a valuable asset in the middle order, known for his tenacity and ability to perform under pressure.
  • Dhananjaya De Silva’s all-round skills make him a dependable player, contributing significantly with both bat and ball.
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The bowling attack will depend on Maheesh Theekshana, Matheesha Pathirana, and the young Dunith Wellalage.

Weaknesses of the Sri Lanka cricket team:

  • Kusal Perera’s form is a concern, as he struggled during the Asia Cup despite making a return to the team.
  • Dimuth Karunaratne’s dip in form led to his exclusion from crucial games in the Asia Cup.
  • The middle-order batting remains a concern, with players like Charith Asalanka and Sadeera needing to deliver consistently.
  • Captain Dasun Shanaka’s recent performances have raised concerns, and he must lead by example.

The absence of Hasaranga weakens Sri Lanka’s spin department, and the pace attack lacks a complete package.

Author’s View: Sri Lanka may not finish in the top five during the league stage.

It is unlikely that Sri Lanka will secure a top-five spot in the 10-team tournament during the league stage. While they emerged victorious in the Qualifiers, the competition at the World Cup is significantly tougher. Their journey will require a great deal of hard work and dedication, and while making it to the top four may be challenging, they still have the potential to upset other teams’ plans.

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Players to watch out for:

  • Pathum Nissanka will be a key batsman for Sri Lanka, aiming to provide strong starts.
  • Captain Dasun Shanaka needs to make substantial contributions both with the bat and ball.

Sri Lanka’s World Cup schedule:

In the 10-team tournament, all teams will face each other, with the top four progressing to the semifinals. Sri Lanka’s schedule includes matches against South Africa, Pakistan, Australia, Netherlands, England, Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh, and New Zealand.