ODI WORLD CUP

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WHITHER SRI LANKA?

Ranjan Mellawa says there’s no fast track to the 2023 ODI Cricket World Cup

Qualifying for the 50-Over World Cup in 2023 is somewhat complicated, to say the least. A total of 32 countries will participate in a series of competitions in the Super League, League 2 and Challenger League; and the consolidated results will determine the top 10 entering the main tournament.

The Super League will feature 13 teams – 12 full members and the Netherlands, winners of the ICC World Cricket League Championship (2015-2017). From this, the top seven and India (being the hosts) will automatically qualify, leaving the bottom five to battle in the Qualifier tournament.

The seven teams ranked 14th to 20th (associate members) will form League 2 and the top three will advance to the Qualifier tournament. The bottom four will feature in the Qualifier Playoff.

Meanwhile, the Challenge League will have 12 teams ranked from 21st to 32nd and the top two will play in the Qualifier Playoff. In turn, the top two from the Qualifier Playoff will advance to the Qualifier.

As such, the World Cup Qualifier tournament will feature nine teams and the top two will play in the 10 team 2023 ODI World Cup.

In the Super League, every bilateral series has a context and is played with points on the line. The teams earn 10 points for a win, share five points for a draw or tie and none for a loss. All 13 sides play eight different teams in the current cycle (four each, at home and away), which runs from July 2020 to March 2023. Each series consists of three ODIs.

Afghanistan, who entered the 2019 World Cup beating the West Indies in the final of the qualifiers in 2018, are poised to gain automatic entry to the 2023 World Cup. They have 70 points at the time of writing from nine games and are ranked fourth in the ongoing Super League.

In contrast, the 1996 World Cup winner Sri Lanka’s recent struggles in limited overs cricket continue and they risk not having an automatic spot in the main tournament. Presently sixth on the table, they have won only six matches in the six series played so far. Away from home, Sri Lanka have lost to the West Indies (0-3), Bangladesh (1-2) and England (0-2).

As hosts, they have fared better against India (1-2), South Africa (2-1) and Zimbabwe (2-1). Unfortunately, their remaining series scheduled for last year against New Zealand (away) and Afghanistan (at home) were indefinitely postponed due to the pandemic.

Aiming for the top two even in the Qualifier tournament to play in the 2023 World Cup may not be easy for the 10 participating teams since it will most likely feature four full members.

As such, if Sri Lanka finishes in the bottom five in the Super League without a turnaround in their 50-Over fortunes, they may find themselves at the loose end of the Qualifier as well.

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