A team that won a World Cup wasn’t even competitive in the Asia Cup

Is it possible to feel empathy for a larger cause even when your team loses? Is it necessary to feel sympathy for a team that loses matches it should have won? Is it relevant that a team that won a World Cup can’t even hold its own in an Asia Cup?

The short answer is that any tournament is poorer when Sri Lanka are eliminated early. Cricketers from Sri Lanka are not merely skilful, they are usually fairly unique, exceptionally talented and the kind of gents you would welcome into your home.

They were whipped by Bangladesh in the Asia Cup 2018 and had to beat Afghanistan by a long way to keep their prospects alive. Instead, they could do no better than allow Afghanistan to score 249 and then implode in style.

Kusal Mendis went in the second ball, but Sri Lanka were 54 for 1 at the end of 13 overs. Then the wheels slowly but surely came off. It was not as though one Afghan bowler produced a freakishly brilliant performance to stun a better team — the wickets were shared equitably — but this was a rout nonetheless.

Rashid Khan, the most exotic and dangerous of Afghanistan’s bowlers, wasn’t even called on to finish his 10 overs. He complemented the early wicket of Kusal Perera with the last scalp of Lasith Malinga, and ended with 2 for 26 with 16 potential balls of his breed of leg-spin going spare.