Sri Lanka were blanked 0-3 in the Test series by India with each game producing a big margin after another. It started with a 304 run defeat, then innings and 53 runs followed by an innings and 171 runs in the third and final Test. It gave India their first away Test series clean sweep and it gave Sri Lanka plenty of headache and reasons to contemplate.
2019 World Cup in England
Just six days later, Sri Lanka have to shift their focus from the longest format of the game to the 50 over format all while trying to forget what happened in the Test series. The 50 over format is all the more important for the hosts than the Tests were. A blanking here and Sri Lanka might be facing nervous times in order to qualify for the 2019 World Cup in England. Recent form suggests things are unlikely to go smooth for the islanders. They were beaten 2-3 by 11th ranked Zimbabwe in the most recently concluded series. In their last ten completed matches, Sri Lanka have lost seven of them.
Currently, Sri Lanka have 88 points that makes them eighth in the ICC ODI team standings and they can book a direct slot at the 2019 World Cup should they win at least two matches. At least two match wins, out of five ODIs in the series, will take up Sri Lanka’s points tally to 90 points. Nearest competitors West Indies can at best reach 88 points even if they win their six ODIs – one against Ireland and five against England – before the September 30 cut-off for the tournament. The tournament will see hosts England and seven more top ranked teams gain direction qualification.
In case Sri Lanka win just one game, West Indies can go through on slender decimal points. Again, for that West Indies would have to win all their six ODI matches. Should Sri Lanka get whitewashed by India, again, West Indies can still miss out if they lost to Ireland who are ranked 12th in the table.
Sri Lanka can take heart from the fact that West Indies aren’t in pulsating form either in the 50 over game – unlike their ability to wow in the T20s. In the last five years among full members, their average and run rate is only better than that of Afghanistan, Ireland and Zimbabwe.