Having played 78 ODI games since 2017, Sri Lanka has managed to succeed in only 22 of them. The winners of the 1996 World Cup, cricket in the island-nation has gone downhill after the retirement of the legends. While issues such as fixing and conflicts with the board have been one of the reasons, lack of proper leadership is also one of the causes for the reality. To put into perspective the leadership issue, there have been as many as ten players who have captained Sri Lanka since 2017. We take a look at these cricketers in the below headings.
1) Angelo Mathews (2012 – 2018)
Overall ODI Captaincy Stats: Matches – 104 || Won – 49
Angelo Mathews happens to be the fourth-most experienced ODI captain in Sri Lanka’s history. Since 2017, the all-rounder was at the helm for 15 encounters. In 2017, Sri Lanka lost a series to Zimbabwe, and Mathews stepped down from the responsibility. However, in 2018, he was re-appointed as the captain but after the disastrous Asia Cup campaign, the veteran was sacked from the role. As per various reports, the cricketer is currently considering retirement from the game.
2) Dinesh Chandimal (2013 – 2018)
Overall ODI Captaincy Stats: Matches – 12 || Won – 6
Once considered the next big thing from Sri Lanka, Dinesh Chandimal hasn’t been able to achieve anything significant so far. He has been captain across all formats in multiple stints, mostly when the seniors were sidelined due to injury. After 2017, Dinesh captained Sri Lanka in nine encounters, the majority of which happened when Mathews was unavailable.
3) Lahiru Thirimanne (2015 – 2019)
Overall ODI Captaincy Stats: Matches – 5 || Won – 1
A promising batsman, Lahiru Thirimanne is also one of the players who have captained Sri Lanka since 2017. In 2019, when the first-choice cricketers withdrew from the tour of Pakistan due to security concerns, it was the southpaw who led Sri Lanka. However, in both the ODI games in that series, Sri Lanka lost to the hosts.
4) Upul Tharanga (2016 – 2017)
Overall ODI Captaincy Stats: Matches – 22 || Won – 4
Upul Tharanga, who announced his retirement in 2021, did not enjoy a great time as a captain. In 2017, after Mathews stepped down from the role, Tharanga was announced as the captain of the limited-overs squads. However, after suffering consecutive whitewashes, Thisara Perera replaced him as the captain. Tharanga has also suffered from slow-over rates as a captain and ban due to doping violations in his career.
5) Chamara Kapugedra (2017)
Overall ODI Captaincy Stats: Matches – 1 || Won – 0
In the 2017 series against India, Upul Tharanga was the captain of the squad. However, he was suspended for two ODIs due to a slow over-rate. Hence, Chamara Kapugedra was appointed as captain of the team. However, Sri Lanka lost the game by 14 runs, and Kapugedra never got a chance to captain the country. Lasith Malinga captained the other ODI after Kapugedra was ruled out due to an injury.
6) Lasith Malinga (2017 – 2019)
Overall ODI Captaincy Stats: Matches – 9 || Won – 0
Although he has a World T20 Trophy under his account as a captain, Malinga did not find success as an ODI captain. It was only for two tournaments that Malinga was the ODI captain. In both these series, against New Zealand and South Africa, Sri Lanka did not win a single game. Hence, Malinga never got the chance to lead the ODI side again.
7) Thisara Perera (2017)
Overall ODI Captaincy Stats: Matches – 3 || Won – 1
After Upul Tharanga was sacked as the captain, Sri Lanka did not have any option but to task Thisara Perera momentarily with the responsibility. For the tour of India in 2017, the all-rounder was the captain. However, after that tournament, he did not get another chance to lead the ODI unit. In 2021, despite being just 32 years old, Perera announced his retirement from international cricket.
8) Dimuth Karunaratne (2019 – 2020)
Overall ODI Captaincy Stats: Matches – 17 || Won – 10
The captain of the Sri Lanka squad at the 2019 World Cup, the nation enjoyed two successive whitewash victories against Bangladesh and West Indies under Dimuth’s captaincy. Arguably the best Test batsman in the squad currently, Dimuth lost his captaincy due to his batting form in the ODI format. Kusal Perera came in place of him in 2021.
9) Kusal Perera (2021)
Overall ODI Captaincy Stats: Matches – 6 || Won – 1
After Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Perera became the captain of the ODI and T20I sides. However, Sri Lanka lost all the tournaments under Kusal’s captaincy. While this was one reason for relieving him of the responsibility, the board also decided since Kusal was considered one of the instigators of the contract stand-offs between the player and the board.
10) Dasun Shanaka (2021)*
Dasun Shanaka enjoyed a good stint as a T20I captain against Pakistan in 2019 when he won three games against the country’s subcontinent rivals. After that stint, he now leads the nation in the home series against India. This was after Kusal Perera’s stint as the captain came to an end.