The wait is almost over as the teams have arrived in Australia ahead of the ICC T20 World Cup 2022. When everybody is talking about sides like Australia, England, Pakistan, and India, there’s one team you can never take for granted.
That team is none other than Sri Lanka, who have been one of the most successful teams in the history of T20 World Cups. After suffering two heart-rending World T20 final losses in 2009 and 2012, they finally got to glory in 2014.
You may be thinking that without the likes of Sangakara, Jayawardene, and Malinga, the Sri Lankan team can’t compete against the top sides in the world. But hold on, they are coming into this tournament after crushing India and Pakistan in the Asia Cup to lift the trophy.
Their team is packed with young talent, and those guys have shown their potential to the world. Will these blokes be able to propel their team to the World T20 Champions title for the second time?
Sri Lanka Squad Analysis
Sri Lanka have entrusted the following players to bring the trophy home for them:
Dasun Shanaka (c), Danushka Gunathilaka, Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis (wk), Charith Asalanka, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Dhananjaya de Silva, Wanindu Hasaranga, Maheesh Theekshana, Jeffrey Vandersay, Chamika Karunaratne, Dushmantha Chameera, Lahiru Kumara, Dilshan Madushanka, Pramod Madushan
Reserves: Ashen Bandara, Praveen Jayawickrema, Dinesh Chandimal, Binura Fernando, Nuwanidu Fernando
5 traveling reserves will accompany the 16 members of the preliminary squad. The main squad has:
- 7 regular batters, including a wicket-keeper
- 5 genuine fast-bowlers
- 2 spinners and a spin-bowling all-rounder
It’s a well-balanced squad, and the selection shows that they have kept their faith in the guys who have recently been part of the team.
Potential Starting XI
The Lankan tigers are likely to go ahead with four batters, two spinners (including an all-rounder), and three pacers in the playing XI. The team will look like this:
- Pathum Nissanka
- Kusal Mendis (wk)
- Dhananjaya de Silva
- Danushka Gunathilaka
- Bhanuka Rajapaksa
- Dasun Shanaka (c)
- Wanindu Hasaranga
- Maheesh Theekshana
- Chamika Karunaratne
- Pramod Madushan
- Dushmantha Chameera
With Wanindu Hassaranga batting at #7, SL will feature with a perfectly-balanced playing XI. The batting has got sufficient depth, whereas two part-timers (Shanaka and de Silva) will be there to assist 5 regular bowlers.
Strengths of Sri Lanka’s Squad
Here are the most vital strong points of the Sri Lankan squad:
An Explosive Batting Lineup
Sri Lanka’s top 7 are all aggressive and stroke-making players who love the pace on the ball. We saw them get to 170 after losing 5 wickets for just 58 runs in the Asia Cup final. It shows that they keep on attacking even after losing early wickets, which makes them dangerous.
So, all the teams competing with SL must be aware of their powerhouse batting lineup.
Quality Spin Bowlers
Wanindu Hassaranga is currently ranked third in the ICC T20I bowlers ranking and has been pivotal in their recent success. Not only can he stem the flow of runs, but he is a natural wicket-taker too.
His spin-bowling partner – Maheesh Theekshana – has played just 24 T20 games at the International level. But, he is already their go-to-bowler in the powerplay. His economy rate of just 6.52 shows his ability to stop the batters from hitting big shots.
Having an inexperienced pace attack, the 8 overs between these two will be incredibly crucial for Sri Lanka in every game.
Weaknesses of Sri Lanka’s Squad
A couple of downsides of the squads which can prove to be costly for them are:
A glut of Inexperienced Players
Apart from Dushmantha Chameera and Jeffrey Vandersay, all other players in the squad will be playing their first T20 World Cup. Four out of their seven regular batters – Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Pathum Nissanka, Charith Asalanka, and Dhananjaya de Silva – have played less than 30 T20I games.
Pramod Madushan and Dilshan Madushanka have only 8 T20I games between them. In crunch moments, such inexperienced players tend to crumble. The Sri Lankan young guns will have to be on top of their game to avoid such scenarios.
Lack of Venom in Pace Battery
They are going with three fairly young pacers; the other two have been in and out of the side due to fitness issues. Overall, there’s not even a single fast bowler on their side whom you can call world-class.
The hard Aussie grounds and pitches can be challenging for young seamers, and they will find it tough to make a mark in such conditions.
Predicted Performers for Sri Lanka
Based on recent performances, we have picked the underlying players as top performers for SL in the mega event:
Although his T20 International career is just 26 matches old, he has made a massive impact in this short time. His 71*(45) in the Asia Cup final powered his team to become the Asia Cup Champions.
His ability to hit the ball all around the ground makes him an exceptional talent. In the upcoming World T20, he might end up being Sri Lanka’s highest run-getter in the tournament.
Hasarange deserves to be given the most credit for Sri Lanka’s resurgence in white-ball cricket. Batting at #7, he has helped his team to get over the line on multiple occasions, and he should keep doing the same in this tournament. Also, he is probably the best fielder in the Sri Lankan team.
But the most important aspect of his game is his bowling. In his 42 T20I matches, he has bagged 72 scalps with an economy rate of just 6.73. An average of 14.78 and a strike rate of 13.22 tell that he has been bossing the batters in this format. Moreover, he has taken the most wickets in T20 Internationals since the start of 2021.
The big boundaries and extra bounce in Australia will aid his bowling, and we predict him to be Sri Lanka’s highest wicket-taker in ICC T20 WC 2022.
Predicted Flops for Sri Lanka
As we have witnessed in the past, Aussie conditions can be cruel for inexperienced players. So, we are expecting these two youngsters to struggle in this event:
The 24-year-old has played just 28 T20I knocks and is striking at just 115.58. He struggled to get going in the powerplay in the recently concluded Asia Cup. He might be unable to cope with the extra pace and sharp bounce on hard Aussie strips.
The pacer will head into the marque event with just 2 T20I games under his belt. He’s a fine talent, but the conditions and pressure might prove too good for him in his first ICC tournament.
Sri Lanka’s Recent Form
Sri Lanka have cruised to victory in the last 5 T20 Internationals they played. They were defeated by a heavy margin by Afghanistan in their first match of the Asia Cup. But they won the next 5 games on the trot to claim the title.
Here’s how they have featured in those 5 matches:
- Sep 11 – Won by 23 runs against Pakistan
- Oct 9 – Won by 5 wickets against Pakistan
- Sep 6 – Won by 6 wickets against India
- Aug 3 – Won by 4 wickets against Afghanistan
- Aug 1 – Won by 2 wickets against Bangladesh
Prediction for Sri Lanka’s Group Matches
Asian Champions will play 3 games in the World Cup qualifier round in an effort to qualify for the super 12 stages. The result predictions for those 3 fixtures are stated below:
- Oct 16– Namibia (Namibia won by 55 runs)
- Oct 18– United Arab Emirates (Sri Lanka to win)
- Oct 20– Netherlands (Sri Lanka to win)
Sri Lanka should enter the super-12 round after finishing at the 2nd position in their group. Consequently, they will be placed in group B with 5 other teams. Underlying are the predictions for those games:
- Oct 24 – Bangladesh (Sri Lanka to win)
- Oct 27 – India (India to win)
- Oct 30 – Pakistan (Pakistan to win)
- Nov 2 – B1 (Sri Lanka to win)
- Nov 6 – South Africa (South Africa to win)
Although Sri Lanka are likely to make it to the super-12 stages, they aren’t likely to get much success there. We predict 3 losses in 5 super-12 games will end their World Cup 2022 journey.
Sri Lanka have got a well-balanced squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup in Australia. On their day, they have the capability to beat any team in the world. But, one can notice that there are far too many inexperienced blokes in the team.
Defeating at least associate nations in the World Cup qualifiers should not be an issue for them. So, we will see them playing in the super-12 round for sure. However, their chances of making it to the semis are thin.
We expect them to win just 2 matches in the tournament’s second stage. As a result, they won’t progress any further in the tournament.
Final Verdict: Sri Lanka will qualify for the super-12 stages but won’t make it to the semi-finals.