Hair-raising Sri Lankans leave for World Cup | Sunday Observer

Hair-raising Sri Lankans leave for World Cup

The 15-member Sri Lanka squad for the World Cup in England left the island after a subdued ceremony and stopped short of making any predictions given the team’s current status in the rankings and the build-up which was not all that convincing during ODI tours of New Zealand and South Africa where the results were displeasing.

What is most hair-raising is that for the first time in the history of the World Cup, Sri Lanka becomes the first team to cart along four “injury replacements” even before the event begins creating insecurity among the 15-member squad that or indirectly suggesting that some of the players are half fit.

Sri Lanka will play its opening match of the World Cup against New Zealand after warm-up matches against South Africa and Australia.

Before that the team will take on Scotland in two ODI matches on May 18 and 21.

Sri Lanka are currently placed ninth in the ODI rankings just above 10th placed Afghanistan in making up the 10-nation World Cup.

The Sri Lanka team’s practice and training sessions were also disrupted due to the bomb scare and security situations in the country and had a final outing three days before leaving for England.

Although there is no clear favourite to win the World Cup, the bookmakers and pundits have tipped the host country England to win the championship for the first time since its inauguration in 1975.

India and Australia are also regarded as hot favourites for the prize while New Zealand, South Africa and the West Indies are classed as teams with an outside chance to spring the surprises.

Pakistan is considered a predictable team to lose in the same way they can win while Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are considered teams that are on equal footing but also capable of causing some kind of an upset win down the line.

Only four teams will make it to the semi finals with England, India and Australia seen as possible contenders for three of the four semi final slots with the other possibly to be fought among New Zealand, South Africa, West Indies and Pakistan.

It will also mark Sri Lanka’s fourth World Cup in England after playing as a non-Test playing nation in 1975 and 1979 and for the first time as a full member of the ICC in 1983 the year in which India won the Cup.

The last time the World Cup was played in England in 1999, Sri Lanka going in as defending champions were able to beat only Zimbabwe and Kenya and failed to enter the second or Super Six round of the tournament that Australia eventually won by eight wickets after bowling out Pakistan for 132 in the final at Lord’s.

Sri Lanka squad:

Dimuth Karunaratne (captain), Kusal Perera, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Avishka Fernando, Thisara Perera, Isuru Udana, Milinda Siriwardena, Jeewan Mendis, Suranga Gamage, Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Pradeep Fernando, Jeffrey Vandersay