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CWC Qualifiers 2023: Youngsters carry confident looking Sri Lanka into main event of World Cup

CWC Qualifiers 2023: Youngsters carry confident looking Sri Lanka into main event of World Cup. Sri Lanka qualify for ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 to be held in India in October.

CWC Qualifiers 2023: Sri Lanka qualify for ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 (Images_ ©ICC_Twitter)
CWC Qualifiers 2023: Sri Lanka qualify for ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 (Images: ©ICC/Twitter)

There were dejected hearts and dropping shoulders when the champions of 1996 ICC ODI World Cup, Sri Lanka, following their defeat to New Zealand during the third One Day International (ODI) at Hamilton in February, failed to directly qualify for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 to be held in India in late autumn.


Because of that, they had to trace a long path through the ICC Cricket World Cup (CWC) Qualifiers 2023 in Zimbabwe to reach the main event of the competition. The dejected faces received new energy and joy when Pathum Nissanka’s wild swing over mid-wicket for a boundary against Zimbabwe in the Super Six stage of CWC Qualifiers 2023 carried Sri Lanka into the main event of the World Cup 2023.


Sri Lanka appointed technical committee to search reasons for their failure

Sri Lanka’s minister of sports Roshan Ranasinghe in the first week of April 2023 appointed a technical committee to probe the reasons behind Sri Lanka’s failure to earn automatic qualification for the ODI World Cup later this year.


Sri Lanka had a few tough series during the fag end of the qualification round when they lost their three-match away ODI series to New Zealand by a 2-0 margin on the back of their humiliating three-match series whitewash defeat at the hands of hosts India. Even when they hosted Afghanistan in the last week of November 2022 in a three-match ODI series, they were only able to draw the series 1-1 with the second ODI being a washed-out affair due to rain. Also, being at the wrong end of results at home to both India and South Africa, Dasun Shanaka’s men were left with a gap too far to bridge for a place in the top eight.


The technical committee which comprised of three former national players headed by the legendary Sanath Jayasuriya admitted that they would plan to improve things in a short-term plan along with some necessary decisions to make the young players confident. Twice finalists Sri Lanka were going to participate in their maiden qualifying round for the ODI World Cup.



Young group of Theekshana, Nissanka, Hasaranga real reason behind Sri Lanka’s quick and smart turnaround

Sri Lanka began their ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2023 in a smooth way against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at the Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo. Put into bat first, Sri Lanka posted 355/6 thanks to crucial contributions throughout their batting lineup with fifties from Dimuth Karunaratne, who was making a comeback in the ODI team, Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama. The UAE batters had no answer to the spin magic of Wanindu Hasaranga, who with his magical figures of 6/24 in eight overs gifted them a winning start.


Hasaranga continued his magical form with consecutive five-wicket hauls against Oman and Ireland. Sri Lanka’s batters chased down the small target of 100 runs against Oman in just 15 overs to boost their net run rate (NRR). Karunaratne with his maiden ODI century of 103-run knock helped SL to build a mountain of 325 runs against which Ireland were rolled over for just 192 thanks to Hasaranga’s record third straight five wicket haul (5/79) to carry them to the Super Six stage.


After their comfortable victory against Scotland in their last group stage game, Sri Lanka for the very first time in this tournament found themselves in a tough situation. Opting to bat first against Netherlands in the Super Six stage, they were bundled out for just 213 with Dhananjaya de Silva being the lone warrior with his 93-run knock. But their spin bowling combo of Hasaranga and Maheesh Theekshana with joint figures of 5/84 in 19 overs blew away the Dutch side for just 192.


One of their toughest games of this competition was against hosts Zimbabwe who by then were unbeaten in their journey. Winning a vital toss, Sri Lanka never allowed Zimbabwe get back in the game as Dilshan Madushanka injured them badly with his three top-order wickets in the powerplay before Theekshana went through the middle order with his 4/25 spell. Later, Nissanka’s second ODI century booked their place in the main event of the World Cup which is due to start on October 5.



Sri Lanka promise bright future shouldering on young talents

Even though the proud cricketing nation has been exceptional in this format of the game in the past eras, they have found a few hard obstacles to overcome in the current generation. This team is nowhere near their golden side of 2011 World Cup which was composed of the likes of Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Angelo Mathews and Lasith Malinga. But this team has shown inspiration even when they became the champions in Asia Cup 2022.


“It’s a big achievement but still we know what we have done in the past in World Cups especially, we won the 1996 World Cup and were the 2011 runners-up,” Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka accepted. “We have been playing amazing cricket in the World Cup; so, it’s a much-needed thing for Sri Lanka to be up there on that big stage.”


Even though the team has been thrown a new challenge in the qualifying tournament at the moment, Shanaka believed that his team would be a better side in the future because of the exposure given to so many young dynamic quality players.


“Credit to the other teams as their players played really well in the tournament, some of the teams gave us some good fights in between; but still, we are a better side.”


Sri Lanka are yet to concede a total in excess of 200 at the tournament with five of their bowlers having taken multiple wickets in the campaign and their spin duo of Theekshana (13) and Hasaranga (20) have asked constant questions to the opposing batters, wearing them down with smartness and their constant line and lengths.


“This bunch of players, they got their own skills and they utilised the conditions over here really well and that’s what is important,” Shanaka spoke about how the personal goals of the players will channelise their experience of playing in different conditions into high-level international cricket. “Knowing the strength of our bowling and batting, that’s the key to success, we stick to our basics really well, whatever the conditions and whatever the situation is.”


In the current situation where the giants of the past West Indies were knocked out of the 50-over Cricket World Cup, it’s fabulous to see Sri Lanka to have taken the challenge in the qualifier head on and they will now start their preparation in full flow for the main event in India.


The 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup will start on October 5 with a game between England and New Zealand at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad with the final to be played at the same venue on November 19.


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