Sri Lanka Team for Asia cup 2023 - Guide & Injury Updates

Defending champions Sri Lanka are struggling to put together a strong squad as some of its main players are suffering from injuries and health issues.

Dillip Mohanty
Dillip Mohanty

Last Updated: 2023-08-28

Sri Lanka is the co-host and defending champions of the 2023 Asia Cup. They have finally found a settled team which performed as a unit to win the ICC Cricket World Cup qualifier without a dent. Some senior pros were trusted again in the white ball format and the mix of youth in the squad has made it look like a fierce unit that it once was known for.

Sri Lanka injury and health update

At the moment, Sri Lanka is looking at depleted side as some of the team members who were certain to get a place in the Asia Cup squad may not get selected due to injury or health concerns. Pacer Dushmantha Chameera is almost certain to miss the entire Asia Cup due to a shoulder injury that he picked up during the Lanka Premier League (LPL). The ace spinner-allrounder Wanindu Hasaranga picked up a thigh strain and missed the LPL final. He is almost certain to miss the group stage matches of the Asia Cup. Given his importance in the team Sri Lanka management will not rush him before an important tournament like the World Cup, which starts soon after the Asia Cup.

To make matters worse for Sri Lanka, wicket-keeper batter Kusal Perera and opening batter Avishka Fernando have tested positive for Covid-19. Though they are certain to get a place in the Asia Cup squad, their availability will depend on how soon they recover before the Asia Cup. Though Perera and Fernando were out of action for some time due to injury and lack of form, Sri Lanka’s chance in the Asia Cup will heavily depend on the availability of Hasaranga. He was the player of the series in the last Asia Cup helping his team win the trophy by picking 9 wickets and scoring 66 runs in 6 matches.

Sri Lanka probable squad for Asia Cup

1.    Dasun Shanaka (C)
2.    Pathum Nissanka
3.    Dimuth Karunaratne
4.    Kusal Perera
5.    Kusal Mendis (wk & vc)
6.    Charith Asalanka
7.    Sadeera Samarawickrama
8.    Dhananjaya de Silva
9.    Dushan Hemantha
10.    Dunith Wellalage
11.    Maheesh Theekshana
12.    Pramod Madushan
13.    Kasun Rajitha
14.    Dilshan Madushanka,
15.    Matheesha Pathirana

Sri Lanka’s top order in focus

The top order has finally got things going with Pathum Nissanka and Dimuth Karunaratne opening the innings. Nissanka has scored 1178 runs since January 2022, the 3rd highest in the world in that period. Making his comeback in the one-day scheme of things after more than 2 years, Karunaratne carried his Test batting form into the shorter format with 481 runs across 10 innings.

Vice-captain Kusal Mendis has the ability to bat at any position in the top and middle order and can also open the innings, same goes for Sadeera Samarawickrama, the team’s backup wicketkeeper. Youngster Sahan Arachchige who made his debut at number 4, scored a brisk half century putting his name as a good future prospect.

Top Order Batting Average in ODI since 2022.png

Though the numbers don’t favour the Sri Lankan batting order, the team’s performance in recent months has been better and can only go upward from there. The majority of players have recently featured in Tests at home against Pakistan and also featured in the Lanka Premier League and look in good touch. The openers shine the brightest looking at the numbers since January 2022. With an average of 42.7, Sri Lanka’s opening pair is only behind Asian rivals Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.

The middle order batters, numbers 4 to 7 have scored 2324 runs at an average of 29.9 meaning that the batters have failed to form long partnerships time and again. This was one of the main reasons for Sri Lanka not directly qualifying for the 50-over World Cup.

The strike rate in the middle and death overs is also an issue. A team needs a good start, a good middle phase and an even batter to finish to get to a good score or chase a steep one. Compared to other Asian teams, both India and Pakistan are fairing better than Sri Lanka in the middle stage and the final powerplay. Sri Lanka have done slightly better than Afghanistan and Bangladesh but to become a world beater, a better effort is required.

Spin heavy all-rounders

Credit is due to the Sri Lankan selectors and the management as they have brought about many talented youngsters in the squad who could perform the duty with both bat and ball at any given stage of the game.

The foremost of them is leg spinner and hard-hitting lower order batter Wanindu Hasaranga. The fourth highest wicket taker in the world since January 2022, he is ranked number 8 in the ICC ODI ODI All-Rounder rankings. Hasaranga has picked 38 wickets and also hit 286 runs since January 2022. His speedy recovery and availability for the super four games will heavily influence Sri Lanka’s chances in the Asia Cup.

Skipper Dasun Shanaka is playing the role well with both bat and ball. He has scored 435 runs at a healthy strike rate of 92 batting in the lower middle order. Fitness issues prevented him from bowling full throttle in this period of time as his record of 11 wickets in 21 innings doesn’t provide justice to the skill he possesses.

Bowling Strike Rate in Middle Overs ODIs since 2022 SB.png

Dhananjaya de Silva and Charith Asalanka are two allrounders who can float around anywhere in the order and can bowl tidy off spin. Asalanka averages 40.37 with 767 runs in 22 innings in the period but hasn’t been used as a bowler. Dhananjaya has 454 runs and 13 wickets under his belt.

Most balanced bowling attack

The Sri Lanka bowling attack tops the charts in terms of strike rate since January 2022, picking a wicket every 28.9 deliveries. They are not far behind India and Australia with the 3rd best strike rate in the first powerplay.  Only the Indian bowling attack has taken wickets more frequently in the middle phase, Sri Lanka are 2nd with a strike rate of 31.2. The death overs need some boost as the attack has managed only 43 wickets in 15 innings with the strike rate almost touching 17.

Bowling Strike Rate in ODIs since 2022 SB.png

Lahiru Kumara is back at the peak of his prowess forming an excellent fast bowling trio with Kasun Rajitha and left arm seamer Dilshan Madushanka. Dushamantha Chameera may return from an injury in the squad with slingy armed Matheesha Pathirana. Maheesh Theekshana, Sri Lanka’s 2nd highest wicket taker after Wanindu in the World Cup qualifiers will be a key part of the squad.
Lahiru Kumara has taken 16 of his 21 wickets since 2021 in the first powerplay. Kasun Rajitha has picked up 21 scalps as well with 12 of them falling in the final 10 overs of an innings. Hasaranga and Maheesh Theekshana have 34 and 22 wickets respectively in the middle phase of an innings.

The final words

Having played plenty of their cricket in home conditions, Sri Lanka have an added advantage already. With a new look squad that has performed extremely well on their recent outings, the team needs to put in another spirited performance to put their best hand up for the Asia cup and the big tournament that follows. Given the injury and health situation of some of the players, the younger ones can get a go ahead for the Asia Cup.

Dillip Mohanty
Dillip MohantySports Editor

Dillip has over two decades of experience in creating sports content. As the Sports Editor of SportsBoom, Dillip brings in a wealth of experience and expertise to the role. Dillip has worked with leading sports broadcasters and sports web content portals in Asia. He is an adept storyteller and has a special liking for data stories. He has a keen interest in data analysis and uncovering insights from large datasets. He loves to tell the story with rich and compelling data visualisation.