Colombo – Sri Lanka go into the World Cup with low expectations after losing eight of their last nine one-day matches and led by a captain who has not played 50-over cricket for more than four years.
While the 1996 champions have enjoyed some success in the Test arena, they have lost more than three-quarters of the ODI matches they have played since the beginning of 2017.
During that period, Sri Lanka have been led by six different captains, the most recent of whom is Test opener.
Karunaratne, who is regarded as one of the best batsman in the five-day format, had not been part of Sri Lanka’s ODI set-up since the 2015 edition, largely because of his low scoring rate in limited-overs matches.
In his first assignment as Test captain, the 31-year-old led Sri Lanka to a 2-0 win in South Africa, to make the islanders only the third team after Australia and England to win a Test series there.
But the skipper would have to preform a near miracle to make his team into serious contenders for the biggest prize in ODI cricket.
His predecessor, Lasith Malinga, leads the team’s pace attack and is fresh from a title with Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament.
The win against Scotland does not erase the shortcomings highlighted during their 5-0 ODI thumping in South Africa in March.
None of the Sri Lankan batsmen scored a century in that series and it was number nine batsman Isuru Udana who produced the team’s best innings of 78.
Also of concern is the fielding, which has been below par in the past two years, with the catching especially poor.
Sri Lanka hope that highly rated fielding coach Steve Rixon can turn things around.They can at least take heart from their pacemen Malinga, Suranga Lakmal and Nuwan Pradeep. He claimed four wickets in the game against Scotland.Sri Lanka begin their World Cup campaign against New Zealand on June 1 in Cardiff.