5 Sri Lanka Players to Watch Out for World Cup 2023

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Sri Lanka was once a rich side in world cricket. They had stalwarts like Aravinda De Silva, Sanath Jayasuriya, Mahela Jayawardene, and Kumar Sangakkara in their midst. After winning the ODI World Cup 1996, they reached the finals of the 2007 and 2011 ODI World Cups.

But then the unthinkable happened as the likes of Muralitharan, Sangakkara, and Jayawardene retired, and the team sank. The 2019 ODI World Cup was a perfect example, where they were sixth among the ten participating teams. 

Nevertheless, the Lankans had their moments and won the Asia Cup in 2022. But it was just an aberration. This year, too, they reached the final, giving some glimpse of their possible future. 

What about their fortunes in the ODI World Cup 2023? Can they perform at their very best? The answer to this question depends on the performance of five players. Let’s have a look at them. 

5 Sri Lanka Players to Watch Out for in the ODI World Cup 2023

We have listed players who could be crucial to the 1996 World Cup winner in India. The fortunes of the team in the 50-over mega event will depend on these players’ form: 

  • Kusal Perera 
  • Dasun Shanaka
  • Wanindu Hasaranga
  • Dunith Wellalage
  • Kusal Mendis

Let us look at the five Sri Lanka players up close.

Kusal Perera

Perera, one of the senior cricketers in this Sri Lankan side, is expected to counter-attack for Sri Lanka. He is Sri Lanka’s most experienced bet in the top order. Perera is likely to act as a mentor to the likes of Pathum Nissanka, Charith Asalanka, and Kusal Mendis.

The left-handed batter missed out on international cricket for more than two years, and he made his comeback in the Asia Cup 2023. Nevertheless, he could open the batting with Nissanka, and the 33-year-old can take full advantage of the opening powerplay.

Dasun Shanaka

Dasun Shanaka is a vital cog in this Sri Lankan setup. At 32, Shanaka is expected to play the role that Hardik Pandya will play for India. He is an excellent hitter and can bowl loads of overs as the first-change bowler in the middle phase of the game.

Since his debut in 2016, Shanaka has played more than 60 ODIs, scoring for close to runs and 27 wickets, respectively. His performance in the recently concluded Asia Cup has been ordinary, but his all-round skills will be useful in India.

Wanindu Hasaranga

An injury might have kept him out of the Asia Cup 2023, but Wankndu Hasaranga is still a front-runner to top the wicket charts in India. In India, he picked up 26 wickets in the IPL 2022, one wicket short of the Purple Cap holder that year, Yuzvendra Chahal.

After being rested for a long time, he last played in July in the ODI World Cup 2023 Qualifiers, where he picked up 22 wickets in the seven games, becoming the top wicket-taker in the tournament. 

  1. 6/24 vs UAE
  2. 5/13 vs Oman
  3. 5/79 vs Ireland

Dunith Wellalage

It is a bit early to Dunith Wellalage over Maheesh Theekshana, who, alongside Wanindu Hasaranga, is expected to hunt in pairs during the multi-nation tournament. But here is the thing: Wellalage is a spin-bowling all-rounder, which means he will be full value for money on Indian pitches.

The youngster will come into bat at around seven or eight, and he can play the role of a finisher for Sri Lanka. Also, he can take on the extra workload in the middle overs, where he can bowl in tandem with either Theekshana or Hasaranga. Meanwhile, fans are sure he will make millions soon in the IPL.

 Kusal Mendis

Kusal Mendis debuted in 2016 and was tasked to fill a considerable gap in the top order. As the management pushed him to number 3, the message was clear: He would have to fill in the void that came into existence following the departure of Sangakkara and Jayawardene.

Naturally, he stuttered as he scored runs at an average of 32. But he was sublime in the Asia Cup 2023, where he piled up 270 runs, becoming the second-highest run scorer in the tournament. A lot will depend on Mendis’ ability to handle pressure at three. 

Concluding Thoughts

Sri Lanka has been inconsistent in the last few years. However, they can create surprises, making them no pushover at the ODI World Cup 2023. If Kusal Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dunith Wellalage, and Kusal Mendis pull up their socks, Sri Lanka could make life difficult for the World Cup contenders.