Asia Cup champions falter but future holds promise - Sri Lanka tournament review
Most runs - Kusal Mendis (223)
Most wickets - Wanindu Hasaranga (15)
What went right
In a campaign marred by injuries to key bowlers, Sri Lanka's spinners stood out. Wanindu Hasaranga once again finished at the top of the wicket charts, taking 15 wickets at an average of 13.27. He had one major off game, against Australia when his three overs went for a shocking 53 runs, but overall, Hasaranga was the star of the show, complimented well by Maheesh Theekshana and Dhananjaya de Silva.
From the top-order, the openers were head and shoulders above the rest. With the conditions posing major challenges to the openers, Sri Lanka's Kusal Mendis and Pathum Nissanka led the way. Sri Lanka's No.1 and No.2 made the most runs in the tournament for openers from any team until the end of the Super 12 phase. They also made the most fifties and generally held the batting together admirably.
What went wrong
Injuries and a faltering middle order compounded Sri Lanka's troubles. Sri Lanka failed to garner enough contributions from the middle order with just one fifty coming from their batters from No.3-No.7. They averaged a combined 16.8 in the tournament.
To be fair, injuries to Dushmantha Chameera and Dilshan Madushanka hurt Sri Lanka big time. The two key pacers would have given the bowling attack the edge it required in Australia. While the bowling was overall pretty impressive, the presence of at least one of these two would have covered up for some of Sri Lanka's middle-order issues.
What does the future hold?
With the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup in India next year, Sri Lanka's promise looks brighter than it might appear after their exit from this tournament. The batting, on paper, is very promising, especially in Asian conditions as they showed during the Asia Cup.
In Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva and Dasun Shanaka, they have a solid middle-order to complement the opening pair and quite a few back-up options to build upon.
The spin attack is well-rounded with a top-class leg-spinner, a mystery spinner who can bowl in the Powerplay and a classical off-spinner whose primary trade is his batting.
The depth in fast bowling is something that Sri Lanka have showcased multiple times in the past couple of years and it once again stood out this tournament with the likes of Lahiru Kumara, Pramod Madushan, Binura Fernando, Kasun Rajitha and Chamika Karunaratne impressing in bits and pieces.
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