373, 361, 358, 359
In case you’re wondering what these numbers are, these are the last four ODI innings scores in England. Pakistan have tried their best, but the monstrous and endless English line-up has made light work of the challenge.
More importantly, this is likely to be the trend for the ICC World Cup 2019 too. Despite perceptions among a few, England is not the place where the ball swings to make life difficult for batsmen. The white ball scenario in England has been quite different for a number of years now, making the country a batting paradise.
Since the last World Cup, there have been 40 scores of above 300 in 56 matches in England, easily the most in a country in the period. Over the last two years, England have scored 300+ 17 times in 45 matches, the most among all teams.
Unless things get drastically different over the next two months, it’s clear that the team that has to win the World Cup has to match this big-hitting ability of England.
Do Sri Lanka have the game to score 300s?
No. An absolute no. The last one and half years performance of Sri Lanka in ODI cricket suggests they are one of the least successful team in terms of posting 300+ scores.
Reasons are obvious. No batsmen, expect for allrounder Thisara Perera scintillating hundred against New Zealand in the first week of 2019, has managed a century in this format in last one and half year. Their batsmen’s inability to play according to situation, to accelerate, to bat till the last has made Sri Lanka one of the weakest batting line ups in the upcoming World Cup.
Have a look at England’s Top 8’s strike rate:
Jonny Bairstow (106), Jason Roy (105), Joe Root (86), Eoin Morgan (90), Jos Buttler (119), Ben Stokes (93), Moeen Ali (104), Chris Woakes (90).
In Sri Lanka’s batting line up for the World Cup, only Kusal Perera and Thisara Perera have the strike rate over 90. In top eight, Sri Lanka has Dimuth Karunaratne (68), Dhananjaya De Silva (77), Kusal Mendis (84), Angelo Mathews (83).
Lack of big hitting players
Below per strike rate’s of Sri Lanka batsmen in not the only problem. Moreover, Sri Lanka lacks big hitters, who can smash four sixes in a over, ten sixes in a match. Only Kusal Perera, Thisara Perera and Angelo Mathews have the ability to hit a six at any given time. But, they will have to mix their batting line up with test mode players like Dimuth Karunaratne and Dhananjaya De Silva, who can’t even rotate the strike properly. In addition, young Avishka Fernando, who has been selected as an opener, has played only five ODIs and expecting miracles from him will be too harsh!
Inability to play Big innings
For England, these days every single batsman has made it a habit to play at least till 40th over, even though they all scores their runs with a strike rate of more than hundred. For Sri Lanka, apart from Mathews, no one gives guarantee to play full quota of overs. The irony is that even if players like Karunaratne and Dhananjaya De Silva plays till last, the team score won’t go beyond 240.
Lack of match winners
There have been at least eight match winners in England’s ODI squad since last two years, who can win the match on their own. India has five to six match winners, while West Indies, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia also have multiple match winners. Sri Lanka have only two genuine match winners – Kusal Perera and Angelo Mathews (not considering Thisara Perera as he is still too inconsiderate). Even in bowling, Sri Lanka lacks match winners, except for legendary Lasith Malinga. Thus, Sri Lanka will not only find it difficult to post 300+ scores, will struggle even in restricting opposite team’s from posting a big score.
In last one and half year, Sri Lanka has played the worst cricket among all ten teams participating in the world cup. Still, as it should be, hopes are there for a miracle. Sadly, the required skills are not there!