Much like in most part of their cricketing history, Sri Lanka’s strongest point is their ability to bowl and play spin. The batsmen have no issues in treating the opposite spinners with disdain while the spin bowlers have quality which is not found too much in other parts of the world. With Muthiah Muralitharan expected to play in the World Cup and guys like Ajantha Mendis, Rangana Herath and Suraj Randiv growing by leaps and bounds as spin bowlers, things will get difficult for the opposition.
The Sri Lankan side has often shown its inability to be ruthless in situations where such a quality could have assisted them in greater glory. The aggression that is usually associated with the likes of the Australian and South African side is missing from the Lankan team and that is where they could miss out on going the distance.
The last time the World Cup was played in the sub-continent, Sri Lanka had gone on to win it. They are one of those sides who love playing at home and have an enviable record in Sri Lanka. Most of their first round games will be in Lanka and that will give them a good opportunity to get the wins under their belt which will allow them to qualify for the quarter-finals.
It has to be the Sri Lankan middle-order’s inability to get the runs. For long, the Lankan team has depended very heavily on the trio of Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene and captain Kumar Sangakkara, but the likes of Thilan Samaraweera, Thilina Kandamby, Chamara Silva and CHamara Kapugedera have all been disappointing. Without too much consistent contribution from the middle-order, it will make it difficult for the aforementioned trio to keep up the same levels of consistency throughout the tournament.
Sri Lanka has won one edition of the World Cup in 1996 and apart from that, have entered the final of one other tournament. This was in 2007 where they were defeated by Australia in the final. Apart from that, they had lost in the first round of the first five editions of the tournament – from 1975 to 1992 – and barely won any games. They were often considered minnows in the cricket world before stunning the world to capture the 1996 version. They lost out in the first round of 1999 and entered the semi-finals of the 2003 edition of the tournament.
Kumar Sangakkara will lead the side through to the World Cup.
Sri Lanka will rely heavily on the captain and Jayawardene and two will be the players to look for in the batting department. However, this is also going to be Muralitharan’s swansong international cricket tournament and one can expect a lot of fanfare associated with his participation. How he handles the situation and whether he is able to perform to the best of his abilities despite the obvious distraction will be something to watch out for.