Reports in local Sri Lankan media have debunked rumors that captain Dasun Shanaka will step down ahead of the 2023 World Cup.
It was claimed that wicketkeeper-batter Kusal Mendis would take over from Shanaka after the Lankans’ worst-ever ODI defeat against India in the Asia Cup 2023 final at home. Sri Lanka got bowled out for just 50 at the R. Premadasa Stadium, with India chasing down the target in just 37 deliveries with all 10 j to spare.
Newswire cited a senior Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) official to claim that the selectors have decided to continue with Shanaka until the 2023 World Cup. Sri Lanka will play their first match of the tournament against South Africa in Delhi on October 7.
Sri Lanka are one of the three teams, apart from Bangladesh and Pakistan, yet to announce the respective squads for the World Cup. The International Cricket Council (ICC)’s deadline for the final submission of teams is September 28.
Removing Shanaka from captaincy could’ve been a disastrous decision for the team, not least because it would have come a week before the World Cup.
The fast-bowling all-rounder has been one of the best captains for Sri Lanka in a long time. Before his arrival, the selectors and board played constant musical chairs and the team looked unsettled and plummetted into lower troughs.
Before the final, Sri Lanka won 23 out of 37 ODIs under him at a win percentage of 60.5. Shanaka led them to historic bilateral wins over Australia and South Africa, and to the titles of the 2022 Asia Cup (T20s) and the 2023 World Cup Qualifiers.
The 2023 Asia Cup final defeat wasn’t a clear reflection of Sri Lanka’s strength either. The team was playing without most of its first-choice players and even making it to the final after a key win over full-strength Pakistan wasn’t a small achievement.