For an island with a population of only 20 million people, the Sri Lankan cricket team has always batted above their weight on the international scene.
The 1996 World Cup victory over Australia led by legendary batsman Arjuna Ranatunga was the nation's greatest night, a game which confirmed Sri Lanka as one of the leading international cricket teams.
The current Lankan team boasts an array of talented cricketers including the likes of Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.
However, unlike India which has a population of over one billion, the island does not have an endless pool of upcoming talent to choose from. So what does the future hold when these stars retire?
Dilshans ferocious unbeaten 74 runs off a mere 51 balls in the recent Twenty20 victory over South Africa further underlined his importance at the top order of the Sri Lankan batting line up. The 36-year-old is considered to be one of the greatest ever batsman in the history of the island, with aggressive opening style often leading to quick runs and numerous boundaries.
In fact, he even made a cricketing stroke his own, getting his bat low and helping the ball over the wicket keepers head, the shot has become to be known as 'the Dilscoop'.
When Dilshan's aggressive opening to a game comes to an end, the lieutenants of the team Sangakkara and Jayawardene grab the responsibility and more often than not steer the team to victory with their wonderful technically perfect stroke playing.
With all three of these decorated batsmen approaching the end of their careers as first class cricketers, it is high time for the younger members of the team such as Angelo Matthews, Thisara Perera and Dinesh Chandimal to take over the baton of responsibility if Sri Lanka are to remain as the No.1 ranked team in T20s.
All rounder Matthews has shown a great deal of potential which is why the 26-year-old has been fast tracked as captain of both the Test and ODI sides. The fact that he was made skipper at a relatively young age indicates that the selection committee are eager to give experience to other members of the team so that they are ready to lead when the Sangakkaras and the Jayawardenes decide to retire.
Exciting young batsman Chandimal who captains the Sri Lankan T20 team is one of world cricket's upcoming stars. At just 23-years of age he already has ODI hundreds against India and England and like Matthews, has been given the responsibility of captaining the team as he is clearly being earmarked as a mainstay in the team for the long term.
Thisara Perera has been somewhat of a revelation in Sri Lanka with his style of batting being somewhat of a rarity in the subcontinent. Sri Lankan batsmen are famous for their technical style of play, preferring to use precision stroke playing rather than smashing the ball out of the ground.
Sri Lanka's success in the shorter form of cricket has partly been thanks to the arrival of Perera on the international scene, with the player being able to bowl but also offering the team an option B if quick runs are needed. He underlined his ability to change the outcome of a game in the recent T20 match vs South Africa where he hit 3 fours and a six in a single over.
If Sri Lanka are to remain as one of the leading cricketing nations, the younger members of the team will have to continue to reduce the responsibility on the veterans in the squad.
The country, known as the 'Pearl of the Indian Ocean' will hope to produce more great names to add to the likes of Muttiah Muralitharan, Chaminda Vaas and Lasith Malinga but with the potential being shown by the younger members of the team, the future looks bright for Sri Lanka.
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