Sri Lanka are pursuing a hat-trick of ODI World Cup finals, having made the finals in 2007 and 2011. This time, they will be hoping to complete the hat-trick and take that all-important final step. To do so, Sri Lanka will have to find some inspiration to energize a team that looks jaded and on its last legs – much like the veterans who underline Sri Lanka’s World Cup campaign.
Angelo Matthews might be leading the Sri Lankan team, but it is quite obvious that the team is heavily reliant on the battle-weary stalwarts like Jayawardene, Dilshan and Sangakkara. The trio along with Lasith Malinga have been vastly responsible for a spectacular run for the Asian Island nation in ICC events – particularly the World Cups. Since 2007, Sri Lanka have made the finals of 5 World Cups – 3 in T-20 and 2 in ODIs. As great and mighty as these wonderful group of cricketers are, one cannot escape the notion that this final hurdle will prove the toughest of all the challenges they have faced in their stellar careers.
One of the primary reasons this will be a might challenge for the Lankans (and Asian teams in general) are the conditions. 4 of the 5 events that Sri Lanka has made those finals in – the conditions were very familiar to the Asian teams (West Indies, Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka). As much as the pitches will be “evened” out by the ICC to ensure an event that is evenly balanced and also to ensure the ball does not overly dominate the bat, one would have to think the sub-continent teams will be playing out of their comfort zone.
The upside for the Sri Lankan team is the fact that the immense experience of these stalwarts will help them in their efforts to make the necessary changes required to impose their strengths and their brand of cricket. They will need the younger members of the team to raise their game to support the Sri Lankan Big 3. To his credit, Angelo Matthews has been doing that really well, since he took over as captain. He will have to continue the good work and also ensure that the other members of the young brigade like Thirimanne, Chandimal and Karunaratne deliver some power packed performances.
On the bowling front, Malinga will be the leader of the pack with Kulasekara who is experienced and capable enough to match Malinga’s obvious firepower. Herath will be the trump card on the spin side of the attack, but Sri Lanka will be counting on Dhammika Prasad and Suranga Lakmal to to ably support Malinga and Kulasekara in making use of the advantage fast bowlers will get from the conditions.
Sri Lanka have the arsenal and the numbers to show why they will be a tough team to beat in 2015 World Cup. However, the law of averages is the biggest enemy that sportsmen/teams have to face and I feel Sri Lanka might just lose out this battle and post their least impressive result in a World Cup in a long long time. Their fans and supporters will be rooting for a hat-trick of finals and the most coveted prize, needless to say.