Jul 08, 2019

Sri Lanka didn't have the X-factor to reach the WC semis - Mahela

I don’t think Sri Lanka were consistent enough to threaten to be in the top four at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019.

They lacked punch in the middle order and apart from Lasith Malinga, the bowling attack didn’t look potent enough to threaten batting lineups.

They just didn’t quite have the X-factor you need to be in those semi-final spots.

Expectations were very realistic in the country leading up to the World Cup. Sri Lanka didn’t show much in the way of form but they always turn up for big tournaments and perform well.

The wins over West Indies and England showed the way – it gave them a lot of confidence to believe the brand of cricket that earned those victories is the way to go forward.

The rained off matches were a missed opportunity and the final group stage game against India could have been a decisive one. Things could have been different.

Against India, Angelo Mathews played a superb innings and deserved his hundred.

It didn’t look like Sri Lanka would get to a competitive score so credit has to go to him and Lahiru Thirimanne for putting up a big partnership.

The middle order has been an Achilles heel but Angelo timed his innings really well. He didn’t take too many risks up front and got Sri Lanka to 264, which I felt was above par in the circumstances.

Angelo couldn’t find form at the beginning of the tournament but the innings against England was a crucial one for him to get his confidence back.

He can contribute a lot more to Sri Lankan cricket and he’ll definitely be in their plans for the future.

Sri Lanka were outplayed by the Indians but the only criticism I can make is that their bowling attack looked pretty one-dimensional. The bowling unit is the biggest worry.

With Malinga coming towards the end of his career, they need to find four or five bowlers you can control a situation and be effective in any conditions.

There are experienced batsmen and youngsters like Avishka Fernando to build a solid batting unit, most of whom will still be eligible to play in the 2023 World Cup in India.

But you need wicket-taking options and strike bowlers, so they have to go back to the drawing board and find out what their plan with the ball in one-day cricket.

On the whole I felt Dimuth Karunaratne did a very, very good job as captain.

It was a tough ask for him but he settled things down and looked in control. Tactically, he did everything he could to engineer positive results.

He started the World Cup really well with the bat and that probably helped him bed into the role.

I’m sure Sri Lanka would love Dimuth to carry on in the job because he took responsibility for the World Cup campaign when it was given to him.

- Mahela Jayawardena

(This column was first published in the International Cricket Council media zone. Except for the headline, this story, originally published by the International Cricket Council media zone has not been edited by SLM staff)