By: Paarth Joshi
As the 2019 World Cup approaches, many teams still have questions that need answers in the next few months. For India, who can step up and provide reliable support in the middle overs outside of the top 3 batsmen? In New Zealand's case, it will be about finding a balanced opening pair to complement their strong top/middle order. And of course, the Australians will be focused on the comeback of superstars Steve Smith and David Warner into the side after their year-long suspensions.
While most upper echelon teams are now looking for final refinements to compete for a World Cup title in June, the Sri Lankans seem to be stuck at square one. Despite being over a half decade removed from their Golden Era, Sri Lanka is yet to bounce back in the white ball cricket rankings. Constant captaincy changes, big roster shifts, and poor team management have all contributed to a long period of disappointment.
After a dominating 5-0 series win by the South Africans, the inexperience and overall lack of talent in the Sri Lankan batting lineup was once again exposed. Only two times did a Sri Lankan opener score more than 10 runs throughout the entire series. Kusal Mendis was the only batsman in the side to cross 200 runs for the series. He also scored two of the three half centuries. He is also the only Sri Lankan to play more than one match in the series and average over 26 runs.
From a bowling perspective, the stat line does not get much better. The top 4 wicket takers of the series were all South Africans. The next leading wicket taker, Dhananjaya de Silva, took 5 total wickets and leaked close to five and a half runs per over. There was a lack of performance in all three cricketing categories.
While we recognize how prolific the South African limited overs side is (ranked third in the world only behind England and India), this ODI series performance by the Lankans can only be described in one word: unacceptable. The players will automatically take a bulk of the blame for overall poor performances these past couple weeks.
However, Sri Lankan management is far from clear. With constant lineup shifts and role changes, it has been a struggle for any player in this team to find a rhythm for the last few years. Coach Chandika Hathurusingha and captain Lasith Malinga will have a lot to sort out in the next few months if they plan to put on a respectable performance in the World Cup.