Having to play in the World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe and then becoming a co-host to the Asia Cup unexpectedly, it has certainly been an eventful few months in Sri Lanka cricket.
The WC qualifiers gave us a very good idea of what an ideal Sri Lanka side might look like, and we tried to include those elements while predicting Sri Lanka’s potential best XI in this Asia Cup.
- 1 Sri Lanka's Asia Cup Squad
- 2 Batters
- 3 All-rounders
- 4 Bowlers
- 5 Sri Lanka's probable playing XI
- 6 1. Dimuth Karunaratne
- 7 2. Pathum Nissanka
- 8 3. Kusal Mendis (wk)
- 9 4. Sadeera Samarawickrama
- 10 5. Charith Asalanka
- 11 6. Dasun Shanaka
- 12 7. Dhananjaya de Silva
- 13 8. Wanindu Hasaranga
- 14 9. Kasun Rajitha
- 15 10. Matheesha Pathirana
- 16 11. Maheesh Theekshana
- 17 Final Thought
- 18 Adam Gilchrist names four potential semifinalists for ODI World Cup 2023
- 19 Ramiz Raja slams Sri Lanka batters after Asia Cup final disaster
- 20 India vs Sri Lanka result: Asia Cup final highlights, scorecard and man of the match
- 21 Kaif hails Hardik Pandya as the backbone of the Indian team
Sri Lanka's Asia Cup Squad
Dasun Shanaka (C), Pathum Nissanka, Charith Asalanka, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Janith Perera, Dimuth Karunaratne, Matheesha Pathirana, Kasun Rajitha, Dilshan Madushanka, Dunith Wellalage, Maheesh Theekshana, Dushan Hemantha, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Dhananjaya de Silva & Pramod Madushan.
Batting has been the area of concern for the Lankan lions in the recent past. To compensate for that, the experienced Dimuth Karunaratne was called up to consolidate the top order. Pathum Nissanka has been exceptional alongside him.
Kusal Mendis has seen his form fluctuate over the past but remains a mainstay. Sadeera Samarawickrama and Charith Asalanka’s surge in form has seen some nerves being eased over the middle-order roles. It will be really interesting to see where all that leaves the returning Kushal Perera.
Captain Dasun Shanaka is vital to the balance of the side with his power-hitting and medium pace bowling. Premier leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga is the bowling trump card as well as a vital lower-order batter.
Dhananjaya de Silva brings a great balance to the side with his off-spin and batting down the order. Chamika Karunaratne offers variety as the genuine pace-bowling all-rounder, capable of using the long handle at no.7 or 8.
Sri Lanka is blessed with bowling options of great skill and variation, expect their potent spin attack to pose a major threat in this Asia Cup.
IPL discoveries Maheesh Theekshana and Matheesha Pathirana offer a mixture of mystery, unpredictability and genuine wicket-taking ability. The raw pace of Lahiru Kumara and Dushmantha Chameera will add an added dimension to the Sri-Lankan attack in the flat surfaces.
Dilshan Madushanka brings the left-handedness and the ability to swing the ball.
Sri Lanka's probable playing XI
Sri Lanka is very likely to rotate, especially their bowling options, to suit the conditions and the opposition. Therefore any XI will be subject to change. However we still tried to put forward what we think will be the best XI that will fulfill Sri Lanka’s needs and therefore allow them to make best use of their strengths.
1. Dimuth Karunaratne
The veteran was brought in to stabilize the batting line-up and anchor the innings from the top so that the batters around him can play their natural attacking game.
So far it has worked for Sri Lanka, he has averaged 60.12 and struck at a healthy clip of 90.92 in 2023. He has also made those around him bat better with his experience and know how.
Since most of those runs came in the WC qualifiers, the Asia cup will provide an acid test against quality bowling line-ups of Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
2. Pathum Nissanka
Freed by the presence of experienced Karunaratne and the management’s faith in him, Nissanka has had an explosive 2023, smashing two tons at an average of 61. He is expected to get Sri Lanka off to flying starts and has the license to swing from the very first ball.
So far this approach has worked as the opening pair has put up some big stands in the WCQ. However there aren’t any guarantees as to whether he will be able to replicate these feats against more skilled bowling line-ups, thus the inclusion of Kusal Perera as a fallback of sorts.
3. Kusal Mendis (wk)
Mendis has failed to realize his vast potential till now. There have been glimpses of greatness, the compact technique and attractive stroke-play has always left fans and the management wanting more.
Which is why they have still persisted with him in the vital no.3 spot. He will be crucial to Sri Lanka’s success in the Asia cup, but he will need to get out of his cycle of inconsistency if he is to achieve the great things everyone envisioned him to do.
4. Sadeera Samarawickrama
Samarawickrama’s form in the no.4 has helped solve one of the major causes for concerns in this Sri Lankan line-up. Fearless and aggressive, the left-hander has injected momentum to the innings with his counter-attacking style from the vital no.4 spot.
Bigger tests await him in the Asia Cup against better quality bowling line-ups, but the signs are positive for Sri Lanka. He is also the back-up wicket-keeper and an exceptional fielder, making him a nice asset to have in this playing XI.
5. Charith Asalanka
Another attacking left-hander, Asalanka will be a key cog in an aggressive middle-order for Sri Lanka. The 26-year-old has impressed everyone with his array of strokes, security against spin and his ability to hit a long ball.
Averaging almost 45 and striking over 90 while batting at no.5, he can be the middle-order enforcer for Sri Lanka; taking on the spinners and setting up the platform for the sloggers to come in and go big. While not used frequently, he is also a handy off-spinner who can get the occasional surprise breakthrough.
6. Dasun Shanaka
Captain and finisher, Shanaka is also perhaps the most important player in this Sri Lanka line-up in terms of the balance he provides. A hard-hitter at no.6 who can score runs at a ridiculous pace, Shanaka will also be key with his medium pace as Sri Lanka’s sixth bowler.
Capable of striking the ball ferociously, he has already played some miraculous innings for his country, the one against Australia in particular, vividly remains in the memories of cricket fans. Sri Lankan supporters will be expecting something similar from their captain in this Asia Cup.
7. Dhananjaya de Silva
A handy batsman who always seems to step up in the moments of crisis as well as being a skilled off-spinner, de Silva is one of those cricketers who go under the radar.
His importance to this Sri Lankan line-up is perhaps best realized when he is not playing and how it disrupts the composition of the best XI. He is not a typical hard-hitter that we usually see in the no.7 role, but he is a clever run accumulator.
The conditions should suit his bowling very well, meaning he will be a frontline spinner who is crucial to this bowling attack.
8. Wanindu Hasaranga
Sri Lanaka’s premier bowler, Hasaranga will be expected to take wickets with his leg spin. The conditions couldn’t be better customized for him, with slightly turning surfaces that would make his ability to turn the ball both ways even more potent.
He operates in the middle overs, so the field will be spread and the ball will be old enough for him to make best use of his skills. He is also a destructive lower-order hitter, as suggested by his ODI strike rate of 110.19, so Sri Lanka will expect him to land some big blows with the bat in the death as well.
9. Kasun Rajitha
Sri Lanka are likely to play with two specialist seamers, so they will go for bowlers who possess the skill-set to bowl both in the powerplay and at the death.
Rajitha has come a long way from being the bowler who had raw pace but erratic lines and lengths to a much refined, well rounded pacer. He still bowls the occasional bad ball but his searing pace will add the x-factor to this playing XI.
10. Matheesha Pathirana
The battle for the second specialist seamer is between two bowlers who both have unorthodox actions and can bowl at an extreme pace. We will go for the prodigious Pathirana over Chameera for his unmatched ability at the death.
Since Sri Lanka are likely to go with 3 spinners, the seamers have to be very adept at the death and the CSK seamer is an expert at that. Pathirana is constantly improving and with his slingy, Malinga like action, he is very difficult to hit making him a vital player.
11. Maheesh Theekshana
Another Chennai Super Kings player, mystery man Theekshana will form the spin trident with Hasaranga and de Silva. Likened to Ajantha Mendis for that angular run-up and the ability to bowl the carrom ball, he is equally effective in both the powerplay and the middle overs.
Sri Lanka can play two seamers because of this, also the fact that Theekshana can even bowl at the death helps. He will be the Lankan Lions’ trump-card in this Asia Cup, especially since pitches are likely to aid his type of bowling.
Sri Lanka will be the dark horse of this tournament. While the batting may look relatively untested, they have a diverse and penetrative bowling line-up. How the batters fare against strong bowling line-ups will be the key factor in Sri Lanka's success. It will be also fascinating to see how the other teams counter Sri Lanka’s spinners in particular.
We already did our squad and best XI piece for Team India; keep your eyes out as we do the same for the other teams in the coming days.