No matter how brilliant a strategy it is, if you try to implement one without the skills and the tools the execute it, it becomes a strategy for failure. A tortoise is not going to win a race with the hare by trying to run fast. It will only win by adopting a strategy that best suits its strengths and looks to exploit the hare’s weaknesses. Sri Lanka does not have a Roy, Warner, Gayle, Tammin or even a Shezad. Even when they had Dickwella and Gunathilake in decent form, they often found themselves 50-3 inside the first 10 overs and all out well before the 50th.
Given the available resources, Sri Lanka’s best strategy is to look to build a solid start with Dimuth and Thirimanne. If they can bat through the first 10 to 15 overs even at around 4.5 to 5 runs an over, Sri Lanka does have quality in the middle order and power in the late order to push towards a 300+ score. Recent history has proven, over and over again, that this Sri Lankan team almost never successfully recovers from poor starts. They simply do not have the quality of Dilshan, Sangakkara or Mahela. However, Sri Lanka does have potential match winning batsman like Kusal Perera, Mendis, Mathews and Thisara, who are more effective when they bat without the burden of having to climb out of a collapse. It will be Dimut’s and Thirimanne’s role to ensure that Sri Lanka’s match winning batsman aren’t exposed to the firing line too early.
Bowling is by far the weakest area of this team and damage control will have to be part of the strategy. Sri Lanka does not have the pace to bounce out batsman, nor the accuracy and discipline to consistently exploit conditions. Even Lakmal, with all his experience, still tends to bowl on both sides of the wicket more often than not. Even worse is the fact that the team has no front line spinner and will go into the tournament with two part-time spinners Dhananjaya and Jeewan. Sri Lanka’s best strategy on the field would be to try and bowl only on one side of the wicket and hope that they can lure the batsman into making mistakes. As we all know, cricket is a funny game and a couple of early wickets can make even a duo of part-time spinners look potent.
It would not be too harsh if one were to label Sri Lanka as the weakest of all teams at this World Cup. However, of the bottom three or four teams, Sri Lanka are perhaps the most capable of springing a surprise or two. While a semifinal berth would be the greatest World Cup upset of all-time, a couple of victories including even an upset of a big team are certainly achievable if Sri Lanka plays to their strengths and not fall into the trap of trying to match what the best teams are doing at this World Cup.