2019 ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP
In the ‘Going for Gold’ high stakes defining slogan of the big stage cricket jackpot the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup that gets going come May 30 on English climes, for the ICC ODI 9th ranked Sri Lanka, the going will expectantly be tough on form book assumption. In the mega championship of championships that will predictably draw the heat for that big, fat slab of gold – trophy and $4.8 million winner take all prize money, and $2.2 runner-up purse, it is the two dimensional galvanising factor – change in tournament format to round robin dictates in its 44-year long history and the fact that the 12th edition of the extravaganza will see at least four top teams on the form book in the fray. That accordingly, all ten teams will play each other infuses an ice edge to the championship. The first round of the tournament will see 10 teams — England (hosts), Australia, Bangladesh, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and West Indies — play against each other to be worked out in England and Wales from May 30 to July 14.
Reigning champions Australia despite ranked 5th in ICC ODI rankings will be very much in the fray as a record five times winners, and reinforced by its two most prized performers Steve Smith and David Warner right up there from over a year long suspension. While former champions India ranked No.2 too is right up there in the reckoning fronted by some dare devil talent spearheaded by batting superstar skipper Virat Kohli, it is hosts No.1 ranked England led by the imaginative Eoin Morgan that has fired up tremendous interest. With arguably the best ever pack in its ODI history, England will be rearing to mount what looks like the most serious of challenges by the masters of the game for that glint of gold that has eluded them. Seasoned front liners such as Jonny Bairstow, Jason Ray, Joe Root, and all-rounder’s Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes are all trump card stuff.
In an all in all gallop for the big spoils with No.3 ranked South Africa and No.4 New Zealand too all spruced up to break a long hoodoo of laying hands on the world cup, 1992 champions 6th ranked Pakistan as much come into the big picture for the sub-continent nations very unpredictable nature of their cricket of rising against the odds.
It is to such a high noon charged up setting that a sort of new look 9th ranked Sri Lanka, behind 7th ranked Bangladesh and 8th ranked West Indies, and only ahead of Afghanistan, steps into the big stage for a crack at the jackpot, intentions of which the side’s new look skipper Dimuth Karunaratne aired in no uncertain terms on the eve of departure. “Our aim is to win the world cup, and we will go step by step fronting match by match,” quipped the 30-year old skipper. In saying so he has followed in the traditionally cautious underdogs approach to big stage contests adopted by Sri Lanka in the past. The best example of it is the Arjuna Ranatunga era when Sri Lanka wore the underdogs tag and preferred to chase big targets and prevailed as in that historic scripting of winning the world cup in 1995-96.
This time around it will certainly be a tall order as the Sri Lankans look to rise from a lowly position in its recent ODI cricket. It will be all about ascending from the low road to the high road. The mixed pack of youth and experience on which that campaign will be mounted will draw an air of fingers crossed expectancy that Trojans will emerge from the pack to deliver the side.
SRI LANKA SQUAD
Dimuth Karunaratne – Captain, Avishka Fernando, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Janith Perera, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya De Silva, Jeffrey Vandersay, Thisara Perera,Lasith Malinga, Isuru Udana, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Jeevan Mendis, Milinda Siriwardana.
Oshada Fernando, Angelo Perera, Kasun Rajitha, Wanindu Hasaranga.