Avishka Fernando. Upul Tharanga. Niroshan Dickwella. Dhananjaya de Silva. Danushka Gunathilaka. Sadeera Samarawickrama. Kusal Mendis. Seven names, all of whom have opened the batting for Sri Lanka in 50-over cricket since last year’s Asia Cup debacle when the island nation went winless, knocked out in the group stage.
Just three from that list feature in the country’s World Cup squad; it is a telling statistic. And as has so often been the case in Sri Lanka’s recent past, all roads lead back to Lahiru Thirimanne.
The 29-year-old is one of many in Sri Lanka’s ranks who, truthfully, may have believed that this competition might pass them by.
Without a white-ball cap since December 2017, Thirimanne could have been forgiven for making other plans for the coming weeks.
Yet, his is a unique case; a domestic record that points to a specialist in the longer format, but whose Test career has flattered to deceive.
His ODI record, on the other hand, belies his stature – especially in the modern game of big frames and even bigger muscles.
The diminutive left-hander doesn’t feel like he should be dominating limited-over contests. However, Thirimanne has World Cup pedigree and he will arrive with sweet memories – if not of playing in England, but then certainly of facing Eoin Morgan’s team at the 2015 competition.
Chasing 309 to beat England during the group stage in Wellington, Thirimanne put on an unbroken stand of 212 with Kumar Sangakkara as Sri Lanka cruised to a nine-wicket victory. The partnership remains the country’s highest for the second wicket.
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