Despite not being seen as one of the contenders for this tournament, Sri Lanka have a rich and successful history in T20s, a history that is often overlooked.
How are they coming into the tournament
There is no doubt that this Sri Lankan side is not the same one that won the T20 World Cup eight years ago. Players like Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara are long retired and Sri Lanka are looking to compete without these international superstars.
They come into this tournament currently ranked as the eight best T20 side in the world, just slightly behind the West Indies who are in seventh. This Sri Lanka team is not the one that went to three T20 finals out of four and there is some concern about the quality of the team entering this tournament.
There has been quite a lot of change in the Sri Lankan team over the past year. This will be the first major test for head coach Chris Silverwood, who was appointed in April earlier this year on a two-year contract. It is a big job for Silverwood as his team has not been world beating since he took over.
There is still some optimism heading into this tournament. For one thing, Sri Lanka managed to win the Asia Cup in September, despite competition from India and Pakistan, two of the favourites for the T20 World Cup title. It was a brilliant result and Sri Lanka will bring that confidence into the tournament.
The confidence will also be bred from prior success in T20s. Sri Lanka has had periods with a very good test or ODI side, but they have produced the worlds best T20 side multiple times, with a spell of a couple years where Sri Lanka could have been considered the best T20 team in the world.
The team today still has stars who are playing in domestic leagues all over the world. Sri Lanka have two of the top six T20 bowlers in the world according to the ICC rankings, with Wanindu Hasaranga being ranked as the sixth best T20 bowler in the world and the eight best all-rounder in the world. They bring a lot of confidence into this tournament.
Sri Lanka T20 World Cup 2022 History
Sri Lanka have a rich and successful history in T20s, appearing at every World Cup and going to three finals, winning one. The teams very first game in a T20 World Cup set the record for the highest score in a top level T20 game and was the largest margin of victory in a T20 game at the time.
This success and batting excellent could not continue to the Super 8s stage in 2007, with a batting collapse against Australia sending them out of the tournament. Sri Lanka got their revenge two years later, chasing down 160 to beat Australia and eliminate them from the tournament before the Super 8s stage.
Sri Lanka were brilliant in the Super 8s stage, winning all three games to send them to the semi-finals, mainly down to the brilliant batting of Tillakaratne Dilshan. Dilshan would again produce magic in the semi-final, his 96 from 57 being the majority of the runs in Sri Lanka’s innings. The bowlers did the rest, skittling the West Indies out for just 101.
It sent Sri Lanka to their first World Cup final, at the home of cricket against Pakistan. But Dilshan could not replicate his semi-final magic, departing in the first over without scoring. A valiant captains innings from Kumar Sangakkara gave Sri Lanka 138 but it was not enough as Pakistan chased it down with eight balls to spare.
It was a heart-breaking loss but Sri Lanka had another chance with pretty much the same team just a year later. They made it a little bit more difficult for themselves this time, with another batting collapse against Australia meaning Sri Lanka’s last ball victory against India was crucial to them progressing to the semi-finals.
Despite having the leading run scorer in the competition in Mahela Jayawardene, Sri Lanka could only post 128 against England, a target they chased down with ease. Back to back disappointing ends meant the expectations were very high for Sri Lanka in 2012, particularly as they were the hosts of the tournament for the very first time.
A rain affected loss to South Africa did not stop the home side from advancing to the Super 8s stage again. They won all three games, needing a Super Over to beat New Zealand in the first game of their group. Lasith Malinga’s brilliant five wicket haul against England was the perfect way to finish the group stage.
They went into the semi-final with a lot of confidence but again posted a below par score. But this time, the bowlers were phenomenal for Sri Lanka, giving the home side a 16 run win and sending them to their second world cup final. The bowlers again put the team in a good position, holding the West Indies to just 137 runs, giving the Sri Lankans a great chance of victory.
But the bowling of Sunil Narine and Daren Sammy took apart the Sri Lankan order, eventually being bowled out for 101 to lose the World Cup at home. Revenge was clear on their minds two years later as they topped the new Super 10s stage of the tournament, with some excellent bowling performances.
They managed to get revenge in the semi-final, beating the West Indies by 27 runs after the game was affected by rain. The bowlers would again be the stars in the final, holding India to just 130 runs. This time however, the batters were able to deliver and chased down the total thanks to another excellent captains innings from Kumar Sangakkara.
Sri Lanka sat a top of the T20 world and it was the best achievement in the teams history. After that world cup victory, the team went through a lot of change and we haven’t seen Sri Lanka contend at the same level. As defending champions, they lost three of their four Super 10s games to crash out of the tournament.
Last year was another underwhelming campaign as almost all of the old gard had moved on and it was a tournament with a lot of newcomers. Sri Lanka cruised through their initial group before losing three straight games in the Super 12s stage to be knocked out of the world cup, despite Wanindu Hasaranga becoming the first bowler to take a hat-trick in a T20 World Cup game.
Sri Lanka Coach
Sri Lanka were clearly not happy with their coaching line-up at the start of the year and looked to bring in a coach with international pedigree. They pounced on Chris Silverwood, two months after he left the role of England coach after the teams 4-0 loss in the Ashes.
Silverwood had a very good cricket career domestically and played 13 times for his country with not a massive amount of success. But Silverwood has been much more successful as a coach. He began with Essex, joining the team as the bowling coach in 2010 before being promoted to head coach in 2016. His time with Essex was very successful, leading the side to promotion to the First Division and then winning the competition in 2017.
His time with England was difficult as the team was all over the place during the Covid pandemic and it ended on a sour note, with Silverwood criticised for his decision making during the 2021-22 Ashes series and leaving the job not long after.
Sri Lanka T20 World Cup 2022 Team
This team still possesses some very talented batters despite not having the superstars of previous teams. Pathum Nissanka is really the standout batter in this team, he will likely be at the top of the order alongside Kusal Mendis who has been with the team since 2016. Nissanka is the eighth best T20 batsman in the world according to the ICC rankings.
The 24 year old has been very good since his T20 debut in 2021 and he comes into the tournament in excellent form. Both of the opening partnership are in good form, leading Sri Lanka to three wins in the Asia Cup a couple of months ago. This batting lineup is slightly dependant on the openers.
Dhananjaya de Silva is the number 3 of the team and he is not the fastest scorer, a man who is slightly more suited to test and ODI cricket, but still a contributor to this team. T20 vice-captain Charith Asalanka will be coming in at four and he was the teams top scorer in the tournament last year, able to score quickly.
They have a lot of experience in the middle order with Rajapaksa and Shanaka in the middle order, with Rajapaksa being the fastest scorer in the team and a brilliant finisher to an innings, with Shanaka is the most experienced batter in the team, playing in his third T20 World Cup.
The team has some good batting and they will make a big impact on the success of the team as the conditions do not really suit the bowlers the team has. The batting lineup has a lot to prove but has some young players who could bat through an innings, although they are missing some of the bigger hitters.
Sri Lanka T20 World Cup 2022 Bowlers
Sri Lanka’s bowling line-up is the slightly stronger of the two departments, with Maheesh Theekshana and Wanindu Hasaranga ranked as the fifth and sixth best T20 bowlers in the world respectively. The pair are excellent and Hasaranga looks like one of the world’s best T20 bowlers.
He made his T20 debut only three years ago and is currently averaging 14.74 with the ball since, an incredible record that has seen him play in the IPL for the last couple of years. Hasaranga was included in the ICC Men’s T20I Team of the Year for 2022. He comes into the tournament on great form, being named player of the tournament for the 2022 Asia Cup.
He is the star of this team and also a helpful contributor with the bat. Theekshana is the newer of the pair, having only made his T20 debut last year and at 22 years old, his bowling record is already impressive, so much so that he made his IPL debut earlier this year and became the youngest ever bowler to take four wickets in an IPL game.
The team does not have a huge amount of experience outside of this pair but they still have some very good bowlers who will contribute to this team. Lahiru Kumara has been a helpful contributor with the ball over the last few years, but has struggled to keep his place in the side during that time.
Sri Lanka tend to share the ball around quite a bit and there are a lot of other players who will contribute with the ball, with Chamika Karunaratne, Binura Fernando and Dhanajaya de Silva also likely to contribute with the ball, but it is not the conditions for some of their spinners.
Last Match performances
Sri Lanka have not been great in the past twelve months, losing all three of their T20 series since last years world cup. But they are coming off the back of a T20 Asia Cup victory where they only lost once in the tournament, beating Pakistan twice in two days. They have a lot of confidence heading into this tournament and can cause some upsets.
Sri Lanka T20 World Cup 2022 Odds
At the time of writing, Sri Lanka are 33/1 to win the tournament, currently ranked as the seventh most likely team to win the tournament. Kusal Mendis is currently 7/1 to be the tournaments top batsman and Hasaranga is the favourite to be the tournaments top wicket taker at 11/4.
How are their chances in the tournament
Sri Lanka I think could be a difficult team to beat this tournament and it would not surprise me if they produce an upset or two. While they are very unlikely to win the tournament, Sri Lanka could still finish top three in their group and with a bit of luck possibly even stretch to the semi-finals.
Sri Lanka T20 World Cup 2022 Summary
Not a lot of people are considering this Sri Lanka team as a threat and I think that underdog status will be something they relish as it is what made them successful in the early 2010s. While this team are not the same as that title winning side, they are still an exciting team to watch in this tournament.