Sri Lanka left for England on Tuesday to continue their preparations ahead of the start of the Cricket World Cup on May 30. The 1996 champions have an impressive World Cup record, having reached successive finals in 2007 and 2011, but expectations are low on Dimuth Karunaratne's side this time round.
The pressure is off for the first time since winning the World Cup in 1996, which could be a blessing in disguise as it will allow the team to play with more freedom. Whether this lack of pressure leads to wins only time will tell.
Sri Lanka are at an all-time low of ninth in the ODI rankings. The team has suffered from off-field issues, captaincy disputes, selections problems, rifts between senior players, breakdown in coach-player relationship and a series of poor performances.
Another huge set-back was the terrorist attack on Easter Sunday that left more than 250 killed, scores injured and shook Sri Lanka to its core.
Players to watch:
Lasith Malinga. One man who capable of being a game-changer. He is certainly past his prime but still remains Sri Lanka's best strike bowler with his sling-shot deliveries. He arrives on the back of a decent showing in the Indian Premier League where he took 15 wickets in 10 matches.
Dimuth Karunaratne. Returning to ODI cricket after four years as the captain and will be Sri Lanka's batting mainstay. He is expected to play the sheet-anchor role while Kusal Mendis and Thisara Perera provide the fireworks.
Sri Lanka will play two One Day Internationals against Scotland on May 18 and 21 at Edinburgh, and warm-up matches with South Africa at Cardiff on May 24 and Australia at Southampton on May 27.
Saturday, June 1 – v New Zealand, at Cardiff
Tuesday, June 4 – v Afghanistan, at Cardiff
Friday, June 7 – v Pakistan, at Bristol
Tuesday, June 11 – v Bangladesh, at Bristol
Saturday, June 15 – v Australia, at The Oval
Friday, June 21 – v England, at Headingley
Friday, June 28 – v South Africa, at Durham
Monday, July 1 – v West Indies, at Durham
Saturday, July 6 – v Sri Lanka, at Headingley
The Cricket Pod: Lamichhane and Co missing World Cup bad for game
What they said:
Dimuth Karunaratne, captain: "We have missed practices due to the unexpected situation in the country but I don't think it affected our preparations much. I am very confident we have the talent and everyone wants to give their maximum during this World Cup. We have had some issues in the recent past but all that has been sorted out and the players are happy and ready to go. Everyone wants to get on with their game to bring good results."
Chandika Hathurusinghe, coach: "We are in the middle of resuscitating from a man-made-massacre. So, was 1996. Whether we're favourites or not, how we prepare, how we talk to the boys, and the coaching staff's preparation remains the same. As players they have to execute on the match day. This unit possess enough talent and potential and if we perform to our best of our ability, we can go a long way."