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Champions Trophy Review: Sri Lanka
ICC Champions Trophy

Champions Trophy Review: Sri Lanka

What was expected?

Sri Lanka had entered the tournament as the 7th ranked team so there were not a lot of expectations from them to do well. They did have some firepower in their batting line up, but bowling was their achilles heel.

Going into the tournament with five all-rounders, six batsmen and four bowlers, their squad lacked balance, especially when most of their players were inexperienced. Angelo Matthews and Lasith Malinga were the two most experienced players in the Sri Lankan squad and both of them had been struggling with fitness issues for over a year before being shortlisted for the Champions Trophy squad.

Before the tournament, even the most optimistic Sri Lankan fans didn’t have any hopes to see Sri Lanka in the final four.

What happened?

Sri Lanka were brilliant in phases throughout the group stages. Their bowling line up did extremely well to restrict South Africa to 299 in their opening match at The Oval. They got off to a flyer when they came out to bat and looked to chase down the total comfortably before Imran Tahir came onto bowl. They eventually fell short by 96 runs.

The Sri Lankan batsmen were at their best against India when they chased down India’s 321 with ease. Angelo Matthews, who was making a comeback after 10 months, scored a brilliant half-century and ensured his team got over the line.

 Angelo Mathews led Sri Lanka home against India

Angelo Mathews led Sri Lanka home against India

Suddenly finding themselves with a lifeline, they had to beat Pakistan in order to qualify for the semifinal. But that is when they played their worst game. They allowed Pakistan to chase down 236 after reducing them to 162/7. Pakistan beat Sri Lanka by three wickets and knocked them out of the tournament.

 Sarfraz Ahmed stroked an unbeaten 61 and added a 75-run stand with Mohammad Amir to clinch victory against Sri Lanka

Sarfraz Ahmed stroked an unbeaten 61 and added a 75-run stand with Mohammad Amir to clinch victory against Sri Lanka

Where did it go wrong?

Sri Lanka were struggling before the tournament had even started. Angelo Matthews, their captain, was forced to miss their opening game due to a hamstring injury. Upul Tharanga was made the captain in his absence but was later banned for the remaining two games for a slow over-rate.

Kusal Perera, an integral part of their middle-order, was injured in the second game after scoring a brisk 47* against India, and was one of several injuries in the squad. Dinesh Chandimal didn’t live up to the expectations and struggled to find form with the bat.

Finally, the old warhorse Lasith Malinga didn’t look at his best. With his pace cut-down, he was anything but effective in the death overs, and perhaps because of that Sri Lanka’s bowling looked the weakest among all the teams. Even when they had restricted Pakistan to 162/7, it was largely because the Pakistani batsmen had played poor shots. Surprisingly, their fielding was also abysmal. They dropped catches and missed run-out chances which eventually cost them a place in the semifinal.