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Sri Lanka - World Cup Ladder
11 Apr 2006
By: Neil Pickup

Team Sri Lanka
World Cup Claim to Fame:
Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana's blitzkrieg opening partnerships in the 1996 tournament revolutionised the one-day game, stunning the world in the process as the 66/1 outsiders won the title.
Two-line Profile:
1. A devastating and world-class core of the side
2. An equally disjointed and impotent seam backup

1) Muttiah Muralitharan
One thousand International wickets are more than enough to secure the Tamil off-spinner's place at the top of the tree. No matter how many face-painted bigots question his action, Murali will command a place in the side until he no longer desires to.

2) Chaminda Vaas
Consistently the best left-arm seamer in the subcontinent - if not the world - since the retirement of Wasim Akram, Vaas is the only man to take eight wickets in an ODI. In South Africa last time around, he dismissed three Bangladeshis with the first three balls of the innings.

3) Kumar Sangakkara
The World XI's keeper-batsman, Kumar has his place behind the Sri Lankan stumps as tightly held on to as he takes the majority of chances offered. Excellent standing up to Murali, Sangakkara's dashing off-side play ensured he would be one of the few to leave the Super Series in credit.

4) Marvan Atapattu
Everyone knows the tale of Marvellous Marvan's one run in his first six Test innings - everyone also knows the story of how he overcame that and reached the captaincy of his national side. Never explosive, Atapattu's batting is reflected in his leadership; both can be on the dull side of turgid.

5) Tillakeratne Dilshan
Since running out four Australians in an electric display in the first final of the VB Series, Dilshan has transformed the world view of him from a bit part player into a key component of Team SL. Also capable of nuggety middle-order contributions and niggling part-time off-spin, he's amongst the first names on Tom Moody's team sheet.

6) Sanath Jayasuriya
Ten years on from the subcontinental pyrotechnics than announced Sanath to the cricketing conscious, the left hander is just as balding and just as spectacular as he ever has been. Fond of the flat-bat six over point, if Jayasuriya can overcome his ageing body, and concerning affinity for comedy shower-related injuries, he may yet damage many more sets of bowling figures.

7) Mahela Jayawardene
Often the hidden man in the middle order, Jayawardene came uncomfortably close to the burn of the spotlight in a 2003 tournament that yielded 21 runs at an average - 3.00 - that would make anyone bar Chris Martin blanche. Prone to bouts of free scoring followed by runs of famine, a lot could depend on which Jayawardene shows up in the Caribbean.

8) Russel Arnold
Forming the second cylinder of the Sri Lankan engine room, Arnold is similar to his compatriot Dilshan in many ways - middle order nurdler cum late order improviser with a hint of off-spin. It's not pretty, but it does the job.

9) Farveez Maharoof
Every side in the world wants their own Andrew Flintoff, a fast bowling all rounder capable of ripping out top orders and smearing opposing seamers to the ropes. In the absence of that, Farveez Maharoof has been known to occasionally take wickets... and even more occasionally, hit the odd six.

10) Malinga Bandara
The VB Series was supposed to be a venue for the reserve seamers to parade their wares and book a ticket to the Caribbean - but the Sri Lankans' bowling standout was a leggie with impressive drift, control, turn and questionable blond streak. His four-wicket haul stripped the wind out of South Africa in the crucial group game, and he's also capable of giving a loose ball a fair whack.

11) Chamara Kapugedera
Nineteen years old, and with an eye-catching ability to clear the leg side boundary at either the top or bottom of the innings, Kapu has leapfrogged many more experienced players in the hunt for a World Cup berth. All that now remains is to begin avoiding those awkward single figures...

12) Upul Tharanga
Two centuries, a fifty and scant else beyond thirty. Tharanga's ODI record smacks of all or nothing, with a concerning scent of minnow-bashing mixed in. The impact of his ton in New Zealand is fading fast amongst failures to more accomplished attacks, and numbers are needed to maintain a pencilled-in seat booking. His part-time wicketkeeping may prove the clincher.

13) Ruchira Perera
A surprisingly effective winter in Australia catapulted Richie into the middle of the selectors' thoughts, in the process giving the lie in to the mischievous suggestion that he was only in the country to make Murali's bowling action look legitimate.

14) Nuwan Kulasekara
Military medium pace from a handful of steps works when you can get it in the right place. When it isn't, it doesn't. Spectacularly. Past experience suggests that Kulasekara is good for approximately one of the former events and three of the latter over the course of the series.

15) Kaushal Lokuarachchi
Now demoted to third-choice middle-order-spinner-pseudo-allrounder behind Dilshan and Arnold - on the perfectly fair grounds that they can bat a considerable amount better than he can, Loku needs to hope for turners, exposure and wickets. Avoiding being the cause of any more fatal road accidents will also help.

16) Lasith Malinga
Marginally better than Shaun Tait, marginally worse than Fidel Edwards - such is the lot of International cricket's third round-arm slinger. The question of whether his often wayward nature is suited to ODI cricket may come second to the question of whether Sri Lanka find anyone else who can bowl fast.

17) Michael Vandort
Despite a miserable VB series as Vandort found it difficult to dispose the opposing bowling from the square, never mind score runs, his determination at least stood out. Just remember, Michael, when they talk about the glue that holds the middle order together, they don't necessarily want it to be Polyfilla.

18) Upul Chandana
Another spinner-cum-batsman-cum-spacefiller, Chandana - despite one of the least likely Test ten-fors in a Top End Tour of Australia - remains on the fringes. Some say experienced, others say tried and found wanting - 2007 would be a last hurrah on the world stage

19) Dammika Prasad
Sneaking under the scope and into the Sri Lankan squad for the recent ODI series against Bangladesh and Pakistan, Prasad has thus far proven himself to offer more of what Sri Lanka already had - the occasional wicket and the more prevalent four-ball. Still, possession is nine-tenths...

20) Dilhara Fernando
Sliding out of the picture in recent months, Dilhara competes with Malinga for the title of quickest in the Sri Lankan side. Unfortunately, he's also a similarly strong contender for the most expensive. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't - he needs more of the former against the major sides.

21) Jehan Mubarak
Now having mercifully forgotten about any pretence of being an all-rounder, Mubarak is now nothing more than a sub-standard batsman. How on earth he's managed to maintain four years in the International picture without a single batting average above thirty is a question that's only answered when one sees the alternatives available.

22) Gayan Wijekoon
More medium pace, allied to 'useful' batsmanship placed Wijekoon firmly in the middle of the middle of the road middle-order reserves. What separates him from the crowd is Test experience against the Digicel-wracked West Indian tourists - unfortunately, 38 runs and two wickets weren't sufficient return to hold the baton.

23) Nuwan Zoysa
Forming the second half of an often-threatening new ball pair with fellow left-armer Vaas during the first half of the decade, Zoysa - also capable of clearing his leg, and clearing the ropes during the slog overs - has faded away under an injury cloud of late.

24) Ian Daniel
In a side of polysyllabic surnames, English-speaking commentators would be grateful for the presence of 'A' team veteran Ian Daniel. However, a first class average of a shade over thirty suggests that bowlers worldwide wouldn't be too averse to his addition, either.

25) Thilan Samaraweera
A Test average of 46 is tempered by a pedestrian strike rate when it comes to Samaraweera's ODI consideration. Earlier a candidate for the Dilshan/Arnold bits-and-pieces role, the former 'A' team captain's best chance of a call-up now is for Michael Vandort to achieve cult status, then become injured and be the only like-for-like replacement.

26) Sajeewa Weerakoon
A pair of domestic bowling averages below 20 have finally turned ten years of first-class cricket into a Test place - but with legion part-time spinners ahead of him, and the one specialist spot sewn up, darned and name labelled with 'Muttiah', Sajeewa will have to go some to earn a ticket.

27) Avishka Gunawardene
Seven years of famine, seven years of plenty. Or so the saying goes. For Gunawardene, seven years of famine at International level have finally - it seems - been followed by the selectors firmly slamming the door in his face. However, he has played 61 ODIs so far despite all evidence to the contrary, so a 62nd isn't out of the question.

28) Lokuhettige Dilhara
Another gloriously unpronounceable forename in a squad filled with tongue twisters, Dilhara made the national side in the summer of 2005 as an all rounder. Eight ODIs, six wickets and a batting average of 9.6 later, he was out again.

29) Akalanka Ganegama
There's nothing worse for an opening bowler than to be dismissively flicked around at ten an over, hidden in the field, then still see the ball coming towards you - and then away from you, as you miss it. Ganegama's International career has been placed on indefinite hold since his VB series trauma, and though still in the 'A' side, it seems unlikely to be revitalised in time.

30) Rangana Herath
Another left-arm spinner who featured strongly against the most recent Australia tourists, Herath - like Zoysa - has faded down the pecking order since that series defeat. Now behind Weerakoon in the left arm spin queue, he needs a stack of wickets and he needs them quickly.

31) Hasantha Fernando
With impressive ODI figures that disguise the fact that five of his seven outings have been against Bangladesh, Fernando's swing and variation proved talismanic as his Chilaw Marians side reached the final of the International 20:20 championship in Leicester. Whether he can convert this into 50-over success against better sides, however, remains a question.

32) Mohamed Suraj
Another third-string spinner, Suraj's main claims to fame to date include tormenting England Under 19 and having three forenames beginning with the same letter, two of them the same (his second name, Marshuk, is the odd one out). With several more experienced men ahead of him, 2007 may well be too soon.

33) Gayan Wijekoon
More medium pace, allied to 'useful' batsmanship placed Wijekoon firmly in the middle of the middle of the road middle-order reserves. What separates him from the crowed is Test experience against the Digicel-wracked West Indian tourists - unfortunately, 38 runs and two wickets weren't sufficient return to hold the baton.

34) Shantha Kalvitigoda
A member of the exclusive one-cap club, Kalavitigoda's one Test outing came twelve months ago in Wellington - to the tune of eight runs at the top of the order. Whilst Marvan Atapattu did start less convincingly, he wasn't aged 27 with an extensive queue of equally mediocre batting around him.

35) Thilina Kandamby
Four ODIs, 23 runs and a miserable Champions Trophy in 2004, Kandamby - unlike fellow frequent left-handed failure Gunawardene - was swifltly disposed of from the International picture. Nevertheless, in a country where Jehan Mubarak is a serious contender, he Kan never say never...

36) Saman Jayantha
Some called him a late developer, others suggested his 2004 domestic form was a bright spark amongst dullness and interference. A 17-game ODI career later, yielding exactly 400 runs and just two half centuries, the others looked like they had his number.

37) Pradeep Jayaprakashdaran
With a surname that seems an amalgamation of several others, and an International career spanning just one ODI, the rumour that the BCCSL intended to pick somebody else, but the secretary couldn't read their writing, has never been satisfactorily dispelled.

38) Prasanna Jayawardene
Arguably the most talented wicketkeeper in Sr Lanka, Jayawardene has been given five chances with the bat at International level to prove that he's capable enough to meet the International challeng. Thirteen runs have repeatedly suggested otherwise, and despite three First Class tons, his best chance of a plane ticket appears to be a serious of injuries to the nation's other glovemen.

39) Angelo Mathews
A natural hitter of the ball, and capable right arm seamer, Mathews led his country's juniors with neither distinction nor disgrace until an injury ended his World Cup campaign. With Kapugedera breaking through from the age groups recently, Mathews' chances are more than just theoretical.

40) Rajitha Amunugama
Now retired, 36 years old, and with no pretensions to international cricket whatsoever - however, with ten first names, Amunugama Rajapakse Rajakaruna Abeykoon Panditha Wasalamudiyanse Ralahamilage Rajitha Krishantha Bandara Amunugama, or Rajitha to his mates, could be the perfect candidate should Tom Moody desire to cause the opposition to spend more time reading out the team list than concocting tactics.

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