Sri Lanka’s World Cup 2023 Campaign: Challenges and Hopes
Sri Lanka is slated to begin their World Cup 2023 campaign against South Africa in Delhi’s Arun Jaitley Stadium on Saturday. However, the Asian side has suffered a significant blow ahead of the clash against the Proteas, as Maheesh Theekshana is unavailable for selection due to a hamstring injury.
“At the moment, Maheesh Theekshana is still recovering from a hamstring injury and he won’t be available for this game. But we expect him to be available very soon. Rest of them are fine,” head coach Chris Silverwood confirmed while addressing the media before the match.
Theekshana’s absence is undoubtedly a big concern for the Lankan team, but the coach put his weight behind the other two youngsters, Matheesha Pathirana and Dunith Wellalage. Silverwood added that Pathirana brings an X-factor with his bowling, while Wellalage is a very mature cricketer.
“Pathirana is a very exciting young talent. He has a lot to showcase in 50-over cricket as well. I think it would be wrong to deprive him of that opportunity. I think it’s a learning curve for me as well to see someone with a bowling action like Pathirana’s. It’s been a great journey so far with him. I find myself listening to him a lot because I’m not going to tinker with his action. It’s his own, and it works for him. For me, it’s about teaching the angles and other things about bowling, but I’m not going to change his action. The last thing I want to take away is the X-factor from him,” he added.
“To be honest, he has shown that he is a good young cricketer. He is a young cricketer with an old head on his shoulders, and I think he has played his cricket with maturity. He has shown his abilities with bat and ball, and also, he is a brilliant young fielder. For me, he goes out and plays his way. He knows his role in the team and is very happy about it. I just want him to enjoy his cricket and show the world how good he is,” Silverwood said while lavishing praise on Wellalage.
Expectations for a High-Scoring Encounter
Quizzed about the kind of track that Arun Jaitley Stadium has on offer, the Lankan coach was quick to respond that he is expecting a high-scoring encounter on Saturday.
“I expect this to be a very good pitch. Speaking to Mahela (Jayawardene) who has good knowledge of the wickets around here. The track looks good, history tells that it’s going to be a high-scoring game, and looking at the boundaries, I expect the same. For me, it’s going to be a belter,” he said.
“One thing that we need to capitalize on is to build on the solid starts and go big towards the end. That is one area that we have been working on.”
Sri Lanka had a tough outing against India during the Asia Cup final. Asked about the same, Silverwood said that everyone talks about the title clash, but overall the team has been doing well as a unit, and that is important.
“First and foremost, we have prepared to the best of our abilities. From a team point of view, we know on our day, we can beat anybody. So, we prepare exactly the same way all the time. Injuries do happen, and we have to deal with them. We know given the right conditions, given the right day, we can defeat anybody. So, we will be going out there looking to win and have a great game tomorrow.”
“Everybody talks about the final in the Asia Cup, but we played some very good cricket together,” he added.
Hopes for Sri Lanka
Talking about what this World Cup would mean to the people of Sri Lanka, the coach stated, “I think for the country, it’s going to be huge. All the players in the dressing room feel the pride. They feel the support that comes from the people. When we walk around Colombo, everyone wants to talk about cricket. There is so much love for the game. I think it will be huge if we are able to put up a good show for them and bring back the smiles on their faces.”
ICC World Cup, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Maheesh Theekshana, Chris Silverwood, Matheesha Pathirana, Dunith Wellalage, Arun Jaitley Stadium, high-scoring game