World Cup Preview #3: Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka will fancy their chances. I mean, who doesn't? The islanders, though, are a good side with a mostly settled line-up. They already have three of the world's best bowlers, three top batsmen, one superb all-rounder. Add to that their agility in the field, put them on subcontinental pitches, and you have strong contenders for the title.

Tillakaratne Dilshan has been around for a while, but this will be his first World Cup since he started fulfilling his potential as a top-order marauder. He will provide many attacking starts, and get out trying the Dilscoop at least once.

Upul Tharanga will be a good foil for Dilshan initially. Then he will realize that he is still trying to fill Jayasuriya's boots, and will fizzle out as the WC progresses.

Kumar Sangakarra can't not score. It's in his contract. With the devil. Which he typed out. With his blood. Which is partly ice.

Mahela Jayawardene might be playing his last World Cup, and if he plays freely and positively, he will score plenty. If not, we can all make fun of his name.

Chamara Kapugedera: there's failure written all over his face. He managed to Photoshop it out, but it's really there. His place is far from guaranteed.

Angelo Mathews will be the best all-rounder in the World Cup, but no one will remember a single innings or bowling spell.

Thissara Perera, when he gets a chance, will fail with the bat unless he is playing India. His bowling works the other way round.

Nuwan Kulasekara is equal to Praveen Kumar. Make him bowl as many overs as possible at the start or middle of the innings and he swill swing it. Avoid at the death.

Muttiah Muralitharan will obviously want to end his career with a bang (or a trophy, whatever works). He will have good control over the runs, but may struggle to take wickets. Proof? Look, his grin looks toned down.

Lasith Malinga will not take 4 wickets in 4 balls, but a hat-trick is always a possibility at the death. His hair will be different come February 19th.

Ajantha Mendis will continue to struggle to make a big impact, and may be dropped for a game or two. He'll return after inventing a ball that can pull out a tranquilizer gun.

Thilan Samaraweera shouldn't really be here, he isn't a one-day batsman. He will have one grafty innings against Zimbabwe and another dogged one against Pakistan, but he could be the one to make way when they decide Perera must play. Hey, that rhymed.

Rangana Herath will play when Mendis is dropped. He will do slightly better and go unnoticed.

Dilhara Fernando: Why does he never go away? They're just going to hope he isn't appalling.

Chamara Silva: Refer to Chamara Kapugedera.

Official-looking prediction: Semi-finals. They can certainly win it, but the contributions of the Chamaras or Samaraweera will be crucial if they are to do so. Team game after all.