Can Dasun Shanaka win 2022 ICC T20 World Cup for Sri Lanka? | Sunday Observer

Can Dasun Shanaka win 2022 ICC T20 World Cup for Sri Lanka?

30 October, 2022

With Sri Lanka entering the ‘Super 12’of the ICC T20 World Cup 2022, the enthralled sports loving Sri Lankans expect ‘Sri Lanka Team’ to produce dazzling performances at the T20 World Cup. Among 12 countries elevated to ‘Super 12,’ Sri Lanka remains the only country to play in three ICC T20 World Cup Finals, becoming runners-up in 2009 and 2012 and winning in2014.

Sri Lanka burst into spontaneous celebrations winning the T20 Asia Cup 2022 Final on September 11 in Dubai, defeating Pakistan by 23 runs and captain Dasun Shanaka called the incredible victory a “real turnaround” for Sri Lankan cricket. The author believes that the Sri Lanka team have been adequately enlightened on the vital aspects such as focus, discipline, hard work, goal setting and the thrill of finally achieving the goals as a close-knit team.

In the Asia Cup, Sri Lankan Skipper Dasun Shanaka, an explosive middle-order batsman born and bred in Negombo admirably led the team to five successive victories. Wanindu Hasaranga starring with the bat and ball was befittingly awarded the ‘Player of the Tournament’ and Bhanuka Rajapakse earned the Final’s ‘Player of the Match’ award for his brilliant knock of 71* (45).

The ICC T20 World Cup 2022 began on October 16 with the Qualifiers and the ‘Super 12’started on October 22.The author strategically watched “Super 12’ openers being a cricket enthusiast. In the curtain raiser the last World Cup finalists, Australia and New Zealand battled out. The Kiwis thrashed the defending world champions Australia by 89 runs. New Zealand put into bat scored 200/3 (20) with the ‘Player of the Match,’ Devon Conway contributing 92* (58) and bowled out Australia for 111 (17.1).

England playing their opener beat Afghanistan by 5 wickets with the ‘Player of the Match,’ Sam Curran of England capturing 5/10 (3.4) to restrict Afghanistan to 112 (19.4) and England scored 113/5 (18.1). India in their opener put Pakistan to bat first. Pakistan scored 159/8 (20) and in reply India scored 160/6 (20) to beat Pakistan by 4 wickets in a last ball thriller, with ‘Player of the Match,’ Virat Kohli of India scoring a stunning 82* (53).

The dwindling crowds and reduced sponsorship as a result of the disinterest towards the longer versions, the Test matches (since 1877) and ODIs (since 1971) needed a change. The cricket authorities were looking to boost the game’s popularity with the younger generation by providing fast-paced, exciting cricket accessible to wider fans. These efforts resulted in first Twenty20 between Australia and New Zealand on February 17, 2005 in Auckland, New Zealand.

The game of cricket cannot be left any more to the excuse of “cricket by chance.” Win or lose has never been in question. Lovers of the game wish to see the fighting spirit and best efforts to make a game competitive. The franchise cricket has lit up T20 and today it is the most popular version. The highest scorer in T20, Virat Kohli of India with 3794 runs and the highest wicket taker, Tim Southee of New Zealand with 125 wickets are playing in the current ICC T20 World Cup.

Sri Lanka at ‘Super 12’

Sri Lanka is an improving team under former England coach Chris Silverwood. The former Sri Lankan captain and cricketing wizard Mahela Jayewardene, an international match strategist and an expert on playing conditions is with the Sri Lanka team in Australia as a Consultant Coach. Mahela remains the first and only cricketer to score 1000 runs in ICC T20 World Cup.His presence, experience and exposure should boost the team spirit.

Sri Lanka is hampered by injuries to Dushmantha Chameera (calf injury), Danushka Gunathilaka (hamstring tear), Dilshan Madushanka (torn quad muscle). They have been replaced by Binura Fernando, Ashen Bandara and Kasun Rajitha. Besides, Niroshan Dickwella, Matheesha Pathirana and Asitha Fernando were flown to join as stand-by players.

With batsmen Kusal Mendis, Pathum Nissanka, Dhananjaya de Silva and Charith Asalanka at the top order, and Bhanuka Rajapakse and Dasun Shanaka at the middle order they could be a formidable batting line-up. In Wanidu Hasaranga, Sri Lanka is gifted with the best leg-spinner in the world. Binura Fernando, Lahiru Kumara, Chamika Karunaratne and Maheesh Theekshana could produce a strong attack as bowlers but the lack of pace bowlers is a concern.

Australia hosts the ICC T20 World Cup 2022. At the end of the Qualifiers, Sri Lanka, Netherlands, Zimbabwe and Ireland got advanced to ‘Super 12.’ The Group 1 include England, New Zealand, Australia, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Ireland whilst the Group 2 consists of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Africa, Netherlands and Zimbabwe. Significantly, the West Indies failed to enter ‘Super 12.’

Sri Lanka registered a comfortable victory against Ireland in their ‘Super 12’ opener on October 23. Ireland chose to bat first and Sri Lankan bowlers Wanindu Hasaranga 2/25 (4), Maheesh Theekshana 2/19 (4), Binura Fernando 1/27 (4), Lahiru Kumara 1/12 (2), Chamika Karunaratne 1/29 (4) and Dhananjaya de Silva1/13 (2) in a superbly combined effort restricted Ireland to 128/8 (20). In response, Sri Lanka raised to 133/1 (15) with significant contributions from the ‘Player of the Match,’ Kusal Mendis 68* (43), Dhanajaya de Silva 31 (25) and Charith Asalanka 31* (22).

Sri Lanka at 2022 World Cup Qualifiers

On October 16, Sri Lanka played Namibia in the ICC T20 Qualifiers clash opener and having won the toss decided to bowl first. Namibia having lost three inside the power-play and reduced to 43/3 managed to register 163/7 on a tricky batting pitch. Wanindu Hasaranga 1/27 (4), Pramod Madushan 2/37 (4) and Maheesh Theekshana 1/23 (4) excelled in bowling. In reply, Sri Lanka failed to perform on the big stage and got out for 108 (19). Skipper Dasun Shanaka 29 (23) and Bhanuka Rajapakse 20 (21) provided some brief hope during the middle overs, but the last six wickets fell for just 34 runs and Namibia secured a 55-run upset victory over Sri Lanka.

On October 18, Sri Lanka faced the UAE in a must-win encounter. Having put to bat by the UAE, Sri Lanka scored 152/8 (20) with opener Pathum Nissanka compiling a responsible 74 (60) to win the ‘Player of the Match.’ Besides, Dhananjaya de Silva 33 (21) and Kusal Mendis 18 (13) chipped in valuable runs. Sri Lanka restricted the UAE to 73 (17.1) with Wanindu Hasaranga 3/8 (4), Dushmantha Chameera 3/15 (3.5) and Maheesh Theekshana 2/15 (3.1) and got Sri Lanka’s World Cup campaign back on track with a comprehensive 79-run win.

On October 20, Sri Lanka won the toss and decided to bat first. A brilliant knock of 79 (44) by Kusal Mendis which earned him the ‘Player of the Match’ along with contributions by Charith Asalanka 31 (30) and Bhanuka Rajapakse 19 (13) guided Sri Lanka to reach 162/6 (20). In the Netherlands innings, Wanindu Hasaranga 3/28 (4), Maheesh Theekshana 2/32 (4) and Lahiru Kumara 1/28 (4) did well to restrict the Netherlands to 146/9 (20) and win by 16 runs and become the first team from Group A to enter the ‘Super 12’ of ICC T20 World Cup.

Sri Lanka Runners-Up in 2009

On June 21, 2009, Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara led the team at the 2009 ICC World Twenty20 final played between Sri Lanka and Pakistan at the Lord’s in London. This was the 2nd edition and both the finalists came from Asia for the second consecutive time.

Prior to the final, Sri Lanka and Pakistan had played 4 times, both winning two matches each with the most recent meeting was in that same tournament where Sri Lanka beat Pakistan by 19 runs. Sri Lanka had a smooth tournament, winning against West Indies, Australia, Pakistan, Ireland and New Zealand. In the semi-final, the ‘Player of the Match,’ Tillakaratne Dilshan scored 96* (57) to help Sri Lanka to beat the West Indies by 57 runs.

In the final, Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to bat. The first over left Sri Lanka at 2/2. Sanath Jayasuriya chipped in 17 (10). Kumar Sangakkara 64* (52) along with Angelo Mathews resurrected from 70/6 to 138/6 (20) with 17 runs in the last over. Pakistan reached 139/2 (18.4), with Shahid Afridi scoring 54* (40). Tillakaratne Dilshan was declared ‘Player of the Series’ for his 317 runs at an average of 63.40.

Sri Lanka Runners-Up in 2012

On October 7, 2012, the ICC World Twenty20 final match took place in Sri Lanka and the West Indies won. This was the first World Twenty20 tournament held in an Asian country. Sri Lankan pacer Lasith Malinga had been chosen as the event ambassador of the tournament by the ICC.

Sri Lanka led by Mahela Jayewardene successfully completed the ‘Super 8’ stage winning all matches against the West Indies, England and New Zealand. In the semi-final Sri Lanka with the ‘Player of the Match,’ Mahela Jayewardene contributing 42 (36) put up 139/4 (20) to beat Pakistan 123/7 (20). Rangana Herath chipped in with 3/25 (4).

In the final, played at R. Premadasa Stadium, Colombo, West Indies winning the toss chose to bat and piled up 137/6 (20) while Ajantha Mendis captured 4/12 (4). Sri Lanka could manage only 101 (18.4) with Mahela Jayewardene scoring 33 (36). Ajantha Mendis ended up the tournament claiming the most of 15 wickets.

Sri LankaWorld Champions in 2014

On April 6, 2014, the 2014 ICC World Twenty20 Final was played between India and Sri Lanka in Dhaka. This was the 5th ICC World Twenty20. Sri Lanka became the 5th team to win the title after India, Pakistan, England and West Indies. This was the third time where both the finalists were Asian teams.

Prior to the final, India and Sri Lanka had played 5 matches in Twenty20s, where Sri Lanka won 3 times and India won twice. In 2010 ICC World Twenty20, the two teams met each other and Sri Lanka beat India by 5 wickets in a last ball thriller. This was their only meeting in an ICC World Twenty20 until this match.

India directly qualified for the ‘Super 10’ and started the tournament strongly. They won their first match against Pakistan comfortably. They beat West Indies, Bangladesh and Australia easily to be the topper of Group 1 with a 100% win rate. In the semi-final they beat South Africa to qualify for the final.

Sri Lanka registered wins against Netherlands, South Africa and New Zealand. But they lost to England. Their win against Netherlands was the biggest victory in terms of balls remaining in all T20s.

Also, Sri Lanka bowled out Netherlands for 39 runs which is the lowest score in all T20s. In the semi-final, Sri Lanka met defending champions West Indies and won by 27 runs (D/L method) in a rain interrupted game.

Sri Lankan captain Lasith Malinga won the toss and decided to field first in that rain delayed final. India scored 130/4 (20) with Rangana Herath taking 1/23 (4). Sri Lanka scored 134/4 (17.5) with the ‘Player of the Match,’ Kumar Sangakkara top scored with 52* (35) to win by 6 wickets. Mahela Jayawardene became the first batsman to reach 1000 runs in ICC World Twenty20.

ICC T20 World Cup Winners

ICC T20 World Cup winners: First edition of 2007 - India defeating Pakistan (hosted by South Africa); Second edition of 2009 –Pakistan beat Sri Lanka (hosted by England); Third edition of 2010- England defeated Australia (hosted by the countries making up the West Indies cricket team); Fourth edition of 2012 - The West Indies beat Sri Lanka (all matches played in Sri Lanka); Fifth edition of 2014 - Sri Lanka defeated India (hosted by Bangladesh); Sixth edition of 2016 – The West Indies defeated England (hosted by India); Seventh edition of 2021 - Australia beat New Zealand ( hosted by the UAE and Oman).

ICC T20 World Cup Star Players

Players of the ICC World Cup Tournaments: 2007 - Shahid Afridi of Pakistan (12 wickets and 91 runs); 2009 - Tillakaratne Dilshan of Sri Lanka (317 runs); 2010 - Kevin Pietersen of England (248 runs); 2012 - Shane Watson of Australia (249 runs and 11 wickets); 2014 - Virat Kohli of India (319 runs); 2016 - Virat Kohli of India (273 runs and 1 wicket); 2021 - David Warner of Australia (289 runs)

Players of the Match in Finals: 2007 - Irfan Pathan of India for 4-0-16-3; 2009 - Shahid Afridi of Pakistan for 4-0-20-1 and 54* (40); 2010 - Craig Kieswetter of England for 63 (49); 2012 - Marlon Samuels of West Indies for 78 (56) and 4-0-15-1; 2014 - Kumar Sangakkara of Sri Lanka for 52* (35); 2016 - Marlon Samuels of West Indies for 85* (66); 2021 - Mitchell Marsh of Australia for 77* (50).

ICC T20 World Cup Records

Batting: Most runs - 1,016 (2007 - 2014) by Mahela Jayewardene of Sri Lanka; Highest score - 123 (2012) by Brendon McCullum of New Zealand; Highest average - 76.81 (2012 - 2021) by Virat Kohli of India; Highest strike rate - 164.12 (2009 - 2016) by Darren Sammy of West Indies; Most hundreds - 2 (2007 - 2021) by Chris Gayle of West Indies; Most 50s- 11 (2012 - 2022) by Virat Kohli of India; Most 6s- 63 (2007 - 2021) by Chris Gayle of West Indies; Highest partnership – 166 (2010) by Mahela Jayewardene and Kumar Sangakkara of Sri Lanka for second wicket; Most runs in a tournament - 319 (2014) by Virat Kohli of India.

Bowling: Most wickets - 41 (2007- 2021) by Shakib Al Hasan of Bangladesh; Best bowling average - 13.58 (2012 - 2016) by Samuel Badree of West Indies; Best strike rate – 13.4 (2009 - 2014) by Ajantha Mendis of Sri Lanka; Best economy rate - 5.17 (2012 - 2014) by Sunil Narine of West Indies; Best bowling figures - 6/8 (2012) by Ajantha Mendis of Sri Lanka; Most wickets in a tournament - 16 (2021) by Wanindu Hasaranga of Sri Lanka.

Fielding: Most dismissals (wicket keeper) - 32 (2007 - 2016) by MS Dhoni of India; Most catches - 23 (2007 - 2016) by AB de Villiers of South Africa.

Team: Highest team total - 260/6 (2007) by Sri Lanka versus Kenya; Lowest team total – 39 (2014) by Netherlands versus Sri Lanka; Highest win percentage - 63.95% (2007 - 2021) by Sri Lanka winning 27 of 43 matches played; Largest victory - 172 (2007) by Sri Lanka versus Kenya; Highest match aggregate - 459 for 12 wickets (2016) in the match between England and South Africa; Lowest match aggregate - 79 for 11 wickets (2014) in the match between Netherlands and Sri Lanka.

(The author is an Associate Professor, International Scholar, winner of Presidential Awards and multiple National Accolades for Academic pursuits. He possesses a PhD, MPhil, and double MSc. His email is [email protected])