The decline of both West Indies and Sri Lanka has been quite painful for Cricket followers to follow as once towering giants of ODI Cricket have become mere shadow of the force that they once were. Post-2015 World Cup, both the teams has been descending the downhill and as a result to which they have to participate in the Qualifiers. The West Indies couldn’t even qualify and were knocked out for the first time. It was considered as darkest day of West Indies ODI Cricket History.
That’s the reason why it became crucial for Sri Lanka to qualify to ensure that they don’t end up on such a disastrous note. The hopes though are not much high among non Sri Lankan fans and there is a reason for it, Sri Lanka have been one of the most inconsistent teams in 50 over format.
Their batting style is not up to the emerging level of modern era’s game, their pacers areoften injury prone and the team doesn’t seem to have the quality. Since April 2015, Sri Lanka has played 140 One day Internationals and won only 51 of them; they have lost a whooping 81 matches while remaining 8 were tied with no results. Among Top 14 ODI Nations (12 Test Countries and Scotland and Netherlands), Sri Lanka stands on #10 during this period. Only West Indies, Zimbabwe, Ireland and Netherlands fare below it.
This was the prime reason when Sri Lanka and West Indies landed in Zimbabwe to play the Qualifiers, it was a near perfect explanation of the state in which their ODI cricket currently stood or maybe, still does. Both the teams have only a couple of good players while the rest of the team looks lacklustre.
The West Indies crashed out which turned out to be the disastrous campaign for the Caribbean side.
Sri Lanka though arrived at right time, they played like a team, which was a senior cricket nation and dominated all the sides in tournament. They played like a team which had a purpose to qualify for the World Cup 2023 to be played in India.
The spinners though played huge role in this success, at a time when the team’s batting was faltering, Mahesh Theekshana and Wanindu Hasaranga have proved to be the saviour; their world class spin left other teams bamboozled. The variety in their armours was too much to be dealt with from the point of view of the opposition batters.
Sri Lanka’s qualification has provided much needed relief to its supporters who were left in the state of anxiety till the last moment. They can now see their national team tussling for the biggest tournament in ODI cricket. They can now hope that their team can replicate the magic of 1996.
The question though would be that, does Sri Lanka have in it to perform well in the Tournament against big teams, the top 8 teams!
Because they have failed to win against these teams on a regular basis. They have negative win loss ratio against most of the teams who will be playing the World Cup and haven’t fared well against them either at home or outside.
Against India, they have a 3-13 ratio in 16 games (2015-2023) during this period.
Against New Zealand it is 1-9, against South Africa its 4-16, and versus Pakistan 2-11.
Moreover, against England it stands at 2-8. This clearly shows that Sri Lanka will be having tough time in the World Cup until and unless they elevate their game for the marquee tournament, massive change won’t follow.
However, for the time being, their fans are happy that, at least, they have not left them disappointed by not qualifying for the tournament unlike the West Indies, Zimbabwe and Ireland.
Feature image source- ICC website