Selecting Sri Lanka’s All-Time ODI XI

Lasith Malinga and Kumar Sangakkara are both easy picks in the Sri Lankan all-time ODI XI.

Sri Lanka’s All-Time ODI XI

The Island Nation won the 1996 Cricket World Cup and therefore some of Sri Lanka’s best all-time ODI players are likely to be from that XI. And so it proves. Muttiah Muralitharan and Sanath Jayasuriya are easy picks in this team.

However, Sri Lanka also reached finals in both 2007 and 2011. Plus, they have been good in bilateral series in that time period.

So, who makes the cut into the team?

The Openers

Sanath Jayasuriya and Tillakaratne Dilshan

Sri Lanka’s batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan (L) celebrates his century (a score of 100 or more runs) during the fourth One Day International (ODI) cricket match between Sri Lanka and South Africa at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in Pallekele on July 28, 2013. AFP PHOTO/ Ishara S.KODIKARA (Photo credit should read Ishara S.KODIKARA/AFP via Getty Images)

Two of the greatest opening batsmen to have graced limited-overs cricket. Both Tillakaratne Dilshan and Sanath Jayasuriya have scored in excess of 10,000 ODI runs. Jayasuriya has 28 ODI centuries along with 68 ODI half-centuries. Dilshan has scored 22 One-Day International centuries for Sri Lanka and 47 half-centuries.

Dilshan was a much more measured opening batsmen who could be innovative. He invented the “Dilscoop” – virtually a ramp over both the batsmen and the wicketkeepers head. Jayasuriya was a destructive ODI batsman who put fear into opposition bowlers. Wasim Akram said that Sanath Jayasuriya was one of the greatest batsmen that he ever bowled to.

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Tillakaratne Dilshan and Sanath Jayasuriya also both offer excellent bowling. Dilshan has taken 106 ODI wickets with his off-spinners and Jayasuriya has taken 320 ODI wickets with his left-arm spin. Both can contribute with their spin in the middle-overs in Sri Lanka’s all-time ODI XI.

The Middle-Order

Kumar Sangakkara (WK), Mahela Jayawardene and Arjuna Ranatunga (C)

LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 31: Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara of Sri Lanka celebrate Kumar Sangakkara scoring a century during the England v Sri Lanka fourth one day international match at the Lords Cricket Ground, on May 31, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Mitchell Gunn/Getty Images)

Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene formed the heart of Sri Lankan cricket for the best part of two decades. They were both stylish and extremely effective batsmen. Jayawardene is perhaps best remembered for the century that he scored against India in the 2011 Cricket World Cup final. He helped Sri Lanka to a solid score, that on most days in finals would have seen them through to victory.

Sangakkara averages nearly 42 in ODI cricket. He has strong averages against almost all nations that he is played against. He scored 4 centuries against England in just 44 ODI matches and also scored 6 against India in 76 ODI matches. Plus, he was a very good wicket keeper as well.

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Arjuna Ranatunga’s innovative and smart captaincy helped Sri Lanka win the 1996 Cricket World Cup against the odds. They beat Australia by 7 wickets in the final. Arjuna himself scored an unbeaten 47. He averaged nearly 36 in ODI cricket and also chipped in with some handy overs with the ball. He picked up 79 wickets in his ODI career.

Sri Lanka’s batting is built around these three pillars in their all-time ODI XI because they can help them get to scores of 300.

The All-Rounders

Aravinda De Silva and Angelo Mathews

Angleo Mathews, makes it as an all-rounder in the Sri Lankan all-time ODI XI.
Sri Lankan cricketer Angelo Mathews celebrates after scoring 50 runs during the 3rd One Day International (ODI) cricket match between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh at R Premadasa International cricket stadium, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Wednesday 31 July 2019. (Photo by Tharaka Basnayaka/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Aravinda De Silva scored a fabulous century in the 1996 Cricket World Cup final to help Sri Lanka to their finest triumph yet. He also picked up three wickets in that match. An all-round performance if ever there was one. Both Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara rate him as the best Sri Lankan batsman that they have ever seen. He played 308 ODI matches and scored over 9000 runs. Plus, he picked up over 100 wickets.

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Angelo Mathews is perhaps the most underrated Sri Lankan cricketer, certainly currently and maybe of all-time. He averages 42 in ODI cricket and has carried the team at a time when they have had batting struggles. He has also taken 120 wickets and would have taken much more till date, had he not been injury prone of late. A fine captain and finisher as well. Angleo Mathews is one of Sri Lanka’s best all-time ODI players and deserves to be in the XI.

The Fast Bowlers

Lasith Malinga and Chaminda Vaas

LEEDS, ENGLAND – JUNE 21: Lasith Malinga of Sri Lanka appeals succesfully for the wicket of Jos Buttler of England during the Group Stage match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 between England and Sri Lanka at Headingley on June 21, 2019 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

At one point in time, Lasith Malinga was considered by many to be the greatest ODI bowler of his generation. His yorkers were lethal and pinpoint accurate. When he was struggling with speed, later on in his career, he developed a brilliant slower ball. In his pomp, Lasith Malinga was a world-beater. Just ask the Mumbai Indians.

He played 226 ODI’s and picked up 338 wickets. At a time where batsmen were beginning to dominate the ball, Maling was superb. He averages 25 with the ball against Australia and has picked up three 4-wicket hauls against them. He also averages 27 with the ball against England, picking up three 4-wicket hauls against them too.

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Chaminda Vaas swinging the new ball at the 2003 Cricket World Cup was a sight to behold. In 322 ODI’s Vaas picked up 400 wickets for Sri Lanka. In fact, Vaas was the highest wicket-taker in the 2003 Cricket World Cup. He picked up 23 wickets in the tournament at a bowling average of just 14.39, as Sri Lanka made the semi-final, before losing to eventual champions Australia.

The Spinners

Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis

LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 05: Muttiah Muralitharan of Rest of the World looks on during the MCC and Rest of the World match at Lord’s Cricket Ground on July 5, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)

Muttiah Muralitharan is perhaps the greatest ODI spinner and even bowler of all-time. He has taken 534 ODI wickets – the highest in the history of the format. He helped Sri Lanka to win the 1996 Cricket World Cup – their only 50-overs triumph to date.

Muralitharan has also taken 15 five-wicket hauls – the most in the history of the format as well. He often carried the Sri Lankan bowling attack and was their most reliable bowler in the format. An economy rate of below 4 meant that he was hardly ever giving away runs – allowing the seamers to also attack from the other end.

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Incredibly, Ajantha Mendis’ bowling average in ODI cricket is below that of the great Muttiah Muralitharan. He averages 21.86 with the ball in ODI cricket. Plus, in 87 matches Ajantha Mendis has taken 152 wickets. This means that he was a pure wicket-taker and a match-winner.

Batsmen struggled to pick his variations throughout his career – especially the doosra or the carrom ball. He had an excellent strike rate of 27.3. This means that he took at least two wickets on average in each ODI game if he bowled his full quota of 10 overs. He was especially dangerous against India. He picked up 36 ODI wickets versus India, including 4 four-wicket hauls at a bowling average of 25.

We hope you enjoyed reading about Sri Lanka’s all-time ODI XI.

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