Sri Lankan cricket fans remember well the day that they arrived, in cricket terms, with their shock win in the 1996 World Cup, when they co-hosted the event that was primarily hosted by Pakistan. Sri Lanka won it on the back of a new tactic of dual pinch hitters, with Sanath Jayasuriya opening with Romesh Kaluwitharana, two middle order batsmen who usually came in at 6 and 7. Nowadays, of course, most teams do it, but back then it was new.
They also benefited from terrorist attacks in their country leading to some countries boycotting their matches in the country. Just the same, they still won, even if there was an underlying threatening atmosphere surrounding the final, for the visiting Australian side at least.
Since then, Sri Lanka have been pretty good for most World Cups, but suddenly, in the lead up to this World Cup, they have seriously stunk, and they are on a downward spiral to beat all downward spirals, so much so that some people are predicting them to finish winless and bottom of the table.
Sri Lanka did beat South Africa in a shock result recently, but that didn’t suddenly turn their form around, and the squad that was announced didn’t alleviate any fears about their chances.
SHow Karunaratne ended up being the captain is a funny story – well, not really, as it kind of indicates the self-destructive nature of Sri Lankan cricket at the moment. Not so long ago they were caught ball tampering too, in a situation worse than what Australia’s Cameron Bancroft did, but the difference was that Sri Lanka’s team management lied about it and covered it up.
So who out of those players above is someone you’ve heard of? Lasith Malinga? Angelo Mathews? Thisara Perera? That’s probably about it. Three players out of 15. That’s 20% of the squad. The others are filler. And even those ones are players who are probably past their prime. None of them are captain or vice captain.
In spite of not having to qualify, both qualifiers will be favourites against them, as will Bangladesh, as will every other team. The only chance for Sri Lanka to win is if whoever they are up against messes up, and even then that probably won’t be enough against the top teams.
Five Fearless Predictions:
(1) Sri Lanka won’t make the semi-finals:
There’s simply no scenario in which Sri Lanka could do it. They might win a match, maybe even two, but to make the semi-finals they probably have to win 6, and that’s about 4 or 5 too many.
(2) Sri Lanka will win a match, probably against Bangladesh:
They might not win a match, and they could alternatively beat Afghanistan, but I am predicting them to have their solitary tournament win against Bangladesh. Yay!
(3) Nobody will be too upset that Sri Lanka do this badly:
I don’t think that anyone is going to be too upset if Sri Lanka finish 2nd last – or even if they finish last, as their performances lately have been so bad that they are prepared for it.
(4) There will be some scandal surrounding the team:
I don’t know what it will be, but I bet there will be one somewhere. Whether Angelo Mathews gets called for throwing, or Lasith Malinga says something in a press conference, or someone gets caught ball tampering, or whatever it is, it will be something, and it will rock them, except that it’s kind of predictable at this stage.
(5) There will be one moment of glory:
The predicted win over Bangladesh might be a moment of glory, or it might be a hat-trick in a losing cause, or some big century, or something, but they will have something to celebrate.
Predicted result: 9th (1-8 result)
Best opponents: Bangladesh, Afghanistan
Worst opponents: Everyone else