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Sri Lanka, West Indies and their uncertain 2019 World Cup qualification situation

Sri Lanka and West Indies, currently eighth and ninth in the ICC rankings respectively, face an uncertain situation regarding their 2019 World Cup qualification and it highlights the decline of the former World Cup champions.

india vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Sep 01, 2017 19:59 IST
Siddharth Vishwanathan
Sri Lanka have been unable to seal a direct qualification place in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in the ongoing ODI series against India, after failing to win two matches.
Sri Lanka have been unable to seal a direct qualification place in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in the ongoing ODI series against India, after failing to win two matches.(AFP)

Sri Lanka’s 168-run loss to India in the fourth ODI in Colombo on Thursday has further deepened the crisis. Not only do they face a potential 5-0 series whitewash, the chance of automatic qualification for the 2019 World Cup has also gone out of their hands. They will now have to depend on the outcome of the West Indies series against Ireland and England in late September if they have to qualify automatically for the mega-ICC event in England.

(Read | Sri Lanka fail to seal 2019 cricket World Cup direct qualification after India loss)

Sri Lanka and West Indies are currently ranked eighth and ninth in the ICC ODI rankings. The qualification rules for the 2019 World Cup state that the top seven ODI sides, apart from hosts England as on September 30 qualify directly. The bottom four sides will need to play a qualifying event featuring the top four sides from the ICC World Cricket League Championship and top two sides from the ICC World Cricket League. The top two teams from this event will get to play in the 2019 World Cup.

(Read | Lasith Malinga blames ‘lost generation’, urges Sri Lanka to back failing team)

The India vs Sri Lanka series ends on September 3 while the ODIs between West Indies vs Ireland begin on September 13 and the five England ODIs begin on September 19 and end on September 29.

Sorry situation

The current situation involving Sri Lanka and West Indies is sad. Sri Lanka are 1996 World Cup champions and have entered the final of the event twice in 2007 and 2011. However, in the last couple of seasons, Sri Lanka cricket has witnessed a decline.

(Read | Lasith Malinga to hand over captaincy to Upul Tharanga, unsure of SL future)

In ODIs from 2016, Sri Lanka have been woeful. They were whitewashed 5-0 by South Africa and were hammered 1-4 by Australia at home. In the 2017 Champions Trophy, they failed to reach the knock-outs and their lowest point came when they lost an ODI series for the first time to Zimbabwe 2-3. Their woes have only grown with another potential 0-5 whitewash looming.

(Read | No two to tango for Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma in 4th ODI win vs Sri Lanka)

For the West Indies, their situation is grave. They were hammered 3-0 by Pakistan and they failed to enter the tri-series final featuring Sri Lanka and hosts Zimbabwe. They were again beaten 3-1 by Pakistan but shockingly, they were held to a 1-1 draw by Afghanistan. West Indies, who are one of the four teams to have won all ICC tournaments, including World Cup triumphs in 1975 and 1979, reached their lowest point when they failed to qualify for the Champions Trophy.

What they must do

With such a string of poor results, it is no surprise that Sri Lanka and West Indies are at the bottom. For Sri Lanka, the final ODI assumes huge importance. If they win, they will end on 88 points and it gives them a slight edge in the qualification race. If they suffer a 5-0 whitewash, Sri Lanka lose two points and will end up with 86 points, reducing the gap with the West Indies to eight.

(Read | India vs Sri Lanka: Manish Pandey says players need time to adjust to new roles)

The Windies will be hoping that Sri Lanka lose the last match. If Sri Lanka lose 5-0, they will have to win five out of six ODIs against Ireland and England to secure direct entry. If Sri Lanka wins, then West Indies will have to win all their games to sneak through. A loss in any one game will result in their elimination from the direct qualification.

If Sri Lanka win and West Indies lose one game, then Jason Holder’s side will go into the qualifying event that will feature Ireland, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe along with teams from the ICC World Cricket League like the Netherlands and Papua New Guinea.

The process to qualify directly for the World Cup, an event that has seen West Indies and Sri Lanka win, is now out of their hands. This sums up the fall of the once cricketing powers.