Sri Lanka’s chances to retain Asia Cup, ICC World T20 look slim
Sri Lanka are yet to find ideal replacements for Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.
Sri Lanka may be the defending champions of Asia Cup and also the ICC Word T20, but looking at the side picked for the two tournaments, it looks almost certain that they will not be able to defend either title this time around. For starters, it will be Lasith Malinga leading the side. Granted, Malinga did a phenomenal job taking over captaincy in the middle of the ICC World T20 2014 and leading Sri Lanka to the title, but things have changed drastically since then. Malinga has had one injury after another, and one wonders whether he is in fact fit to play international cricket anymore. READ: ICC World T20 2016: Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews included in Sri Lanka squad
Veterans like Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene are no longer in the side, having both retired from T20Is after the ICC World T20 2014, and Sri Lanka have not found decent replacements for them yet. Angelo Mathews has been instrumental in his performance and captaincy in Tests and One-Day Internationals (ODI), which has kept Sri Lanka afloat. Tillakaratne Dilshan, who is considered one of the best batsmen in the shortest format, has not been in the best of form either. His scores of 0, 28, 0 and 1 in the last four matches indicates that his form is far from ideal. He will have to fire for Sri Lanka in the upcoming tournaments as the batting around him is more or less inexperienced. READ: ICC World T20 2016 and Asia Cup: Faltering Sri Lanka welcome back heroes
The rise of Dinesh Chandimal across formats has been of great encouragement for Sri Lanka. He has scored heavily in all formats over the last few months and also led Sri Lanka in the T20I series against India. Chandimal along with Mathews will have to be the ones to get a chunk of the runs in the middle-order for Sri Lanka.
The likes of Shehan Jayasuriya and Niroshan Dickewella have not yet made their mark in international cricket and the upcoming tournaments will be a huge test for both of them. This tournament could be a last hurrah for Rangana Herath, who again has been inconsistent of late. Herath’s last T20I was the ICC World T20 2014 final against India and the lack of quality spinners in the country perhaps sealed Herath’s place in the squad. READ: Sri Lanka struggles in transitional phase following exit of legends
Sri Lanka will hope that their seasoned campaigners are at the top of their game throughout the tournament, which will give the new-comers some time to settle in. At times, they are over-dependent on one player, which may cost them. They will need everyone to do their bit if they are to retain their titles.
(Pramod Ananth is a reporter at CricketCountry. He has represented Karnataka table tennis under-15, and is a hardcore supporter of Liverpool FC. His Twitter handle is @pramz)