Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne believes they must use their final ICC Cricket World Cup clash with India as a springboard for 2023. Sri Lanka have won three of their six completed games in this tournament, and cannot qualify for the semi-finals even with a win at Headingley.
But after a disrupted preparation, where Karunaratne was only named captain a month before the tournament, the opener believes that Sri Lanka need to be forward thinking ahead of the next World Cup.
He said: “In the 2015 World Cup we also started to build the World Cup side (for 2019) but unfortunately the players who came in, they couldn't perform very well then and we had to change lots of players.
“But after this World Cup we're trying to have a special plan and identify the players who can produce – if you take the bowling, batting, fielding and the fitness level.
“We are looking to the future World Cup and making a good solid 15 for us to select.”
Of those players who will play a key role in 2023, Avishka Fernando seems an obvious candidate, having enjoyed a fine World Cup with the bat to date.
The 21-year-old batsman secured an eye-catching century in the recent win over the West Indies, and Karunaratne believes he has the talent to be a mainstay of the Sri Lankan batting line-up.
He added: “If you take the positives of Avishka Fernando, he's playing really good, doing really well.
“In three games he showed that he can do and he can produce runs for Sri Lanka. He’s one of the future stars.”
In the immediate future, the challenge for Sri Lanka will be containing India’s star-studded batting line-up, notably Rohit Sharma, who has scored four centuries already in this World Cup.
And for Karunaratne, the key will executing to their plans to try to stifle the Indian opener.
He added: “Every batsman has good points. We have looked at videos of Rohit, not only Rohit, Virat (Kohli) and all the top six batsmen, and we have a plan for everyone.
“The point is we have to execute really well against those batsmen. We know they are really dangerous.
“Once they get set, they're going for the big ones. So we have some plans and we're trying to restrict them. And if we can execute really well, definitely we can get them out and early.
“We have to win this final game to end up in the fifth or sixth position, that's our plan. We intend to do our best.”
(Inputs from ICC)