World Cup Review 2019: Sri Lanka
Three wins and two washouts saw Sri Lanka exit the World Cup with eight points and some pride restored following a torrid few years of poor performances, confused administration, and constant interference in team matters.
Having rotated the captaincy around so many times and not giving any candidate a chance to settle in the role, Dimuth Karunaratne ended up as captain and impressed with his calm leadership and management of senior players.
While it is unclear if he is a long-term option, but he has done enough to continue in the role for a while longer.
Curtailing the authority of coach Chandika Hathurusingha and limiting his ability to effect any meaningful change was another misstep, as was changing the selection committee months before the tournament.
Constant interference in team selection and tactics did not do much to build confidence among the players, as was evident in their performances.
Despite all the chaos, there were some standout performances. Lasith Malinga defied all those who said he was done by single-handedly taking down England with some vicious yorkers.
Avishka Fernando impressed with a maiden international century against West Indies, Kusal Perera contributed with three half-centuries and Angelo Mathews put behind a poor start to his tournament to finish with an excellent century against India.
Dimuth Karunaratne did his part at top of the order, contributing two half-centuries. Malinga aside, the only other bowler to average less than 35 was Nuwan Pradeep, who took five wickets at an average of 31.40. Isuru Udana was the best bowler in the team after Malinga, but his six wickets came at an average of 49.33.
Ace pacer Malinga himself managed 13 wickets in seven matches.
The lack of an effective front-line spinner - Dhananjaya de Silva and Jeevan Mendis peformed poorly - meant that Sri Lanka were overly reliant on Malinga during the middle overs and during the death overs.
Despite the average showing and an overreliance on Malinga, Sri Lanka showed that the talent that they have can help bring them back to competitive heights if properly nurtured and managed.
To be considered a genuine force in international cricket once again, it is imperative that they improve their fielding, identify a proper bowling attack, a long term captain, and ensure that they are given the space and confidence to develop as a team without any external interference.
Also read - World cup all-time records