Sri Lanka used to be considered a favourite for any ICC tournament even a few years back. But the retirement of three musketeers -- Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan, gradually saw the mighty falling.
Afterwards, the absence of Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Rangana Herath, Upul Tharanga and Lasith Malinga led Lankan cricket to see its demise.
It is quite disappointing for them that they failed to recover the transition period and manufacture efficient cricketers in the pipeline.
Sri Lanka won the T20 World Cup in 2014 by beating India in the finals. They were also the runners up of the 2009 and 2012 T20 World Cup editions. In their 35 games in the T20 World Cup, they have 22 wins with the highest percentage among the World Cup playing nations.
And now they have to play the qualifier in order to reach the super 12 of the tournament is itself a spectacular downfall.
Big teams are now taking Sri Lanka lightly. India sent almost a second-tier team to play the T20 series against them. Though Sri Lanka managed to win the series, that doesn’t prove anything since they were whitewashed by South Africa in the next series itself.
Again, this Sri Lanka team is not much familiar with the UAE condition. The team lacks the ability to adapt to an unfamiliar condition as well.
Dasun Shanaka, a handy all-rounder is captaining the side where Dinesh Chandimal, Kusal Perera, Nuwan Pradeep and Dushmantha Chameera are the experienced campaigners.
Opener Kusal has the ability to take the saviour role with 1416 runs to his name from 51 T20Is. Dinesh Chandimal has an average of 20.4 and a strike rate of 105.4 which is not going to add any value to the team.
Though Chameera and Pradeep played a considerable number of T20 games, they don’t have any special skills to stand out. Their only chance to crack something is having a fast bowling condition in Dubai.
Wahindu Hasaranga, Laxman Sandakan, Dhannajaya De Silva are going to lead the spin attack. Hasanaga is the only bowler who is reliable with an economy rate of 6.58.
Except for these names, the rest of the Lankan lineup is unfamiliar to the international circuit and not reliable. Even, not a single player from this side has played in IPL.
Sri Lanka failed to score 150 runs or above in their last 10 T20s which is scary. The absence of big hitters will add to this problem.
Fielding has been their persistent problem for quite some time now. Leaking runs for sloppy fielding can cost them big time.
To qualify for the super 12, Sri Lanka have to face two strong ICC associate members-- Ireland and Netherlands.
Both of these nations have produced upsets in the previous World Cups. Especially, the Ireland side looks very diligent with a few big hitters in their batting lineup. The Netherlands can also be a tough fight for the Lankans.
However, we can assume that Sri Lanka will qualify for the super 12. But winning matches after that will be their real challenge.
Yet, fans expect the Lankans to fix their problems and show some character in the coming mega event.