Sri Lanka have issues in the middle order and their bowling combination, but they seem to have a problem of plenty at the top. They have four opening options - Avishka Fernando, Danushka Gunathilaka, Niroshan Dickwella and Kusal Mendis - but barring Gunathilaka to some extent, nobody else has managed to cement a place at the top. ESPNcricinfo runs the rule over Sri Lanka's opening options as they prepare for the T20 World Cup qualifier later this year.
A bruising batsman, Gunathilaka is strong on both sides of the wicket, something that was on bright display during Sri Lanka's 3-0 T20I series win in Pakistan last year. Pakistan's teenaged tearaway Mohammad Hasnain bagged a hat-trick (spread across two overs) in the first T20I in Lahore, but that didn't impact the game as much as Gunathilaka's 38-ball 57 did. Forty-three of those runs came in the Powerplay itself and while Gunathilaka's ball-striking wasn't as brilliant on the larger grounds in Australia, his power at the top has made his top-order case too hard to ignore.
He had initially been ignored for the Champions Trophy in 2017 and then ignored altogether for the World Cup, but Gunathilaka might well be the No.1 opener for Sri Lanka in the T20 World Cup qualifier. He can also pitch in with some part-time offspin.
"It looks like he has a lot of time to face the quicker bowlers." Angelo Mathews delivered a glowing appraisal of Avishka after he had become Sri Lanka's youngest centurion (21 years, 87 days) in the World Cup. Mathews might have well been talking about Avishka's front-foot pull for six off left-arm fast bowler Sheldon Cottrell.
As much as Avishka can thrill you with his style, he can also frustrate you with the lack of substance. He has made 20 at least 12 times in 26 limited-overs innings, but has managed just three fifty-plus scores overall. Avishka is no power-hitter like Gunathilaka, but his T20I strike rate of 98.83 needs some buffing up.
In his most recent T20I, in Indore, Avishka played some regal on-the-up drives, but he still wound up playing out nine dots in 16 balls. After Sri Lanka went down by seven wickets at the Holkar stadium, Mickey Arthur, their coach, suggested that rotating the strike is something that their top order needs to work on.
Dickwella is quite a character in front of the stumps as well as behind it, and even during media conferences. He's such a freakish talent that he can Dickscoop a 142kph rocket from Kagiso Rababa for six. He made some charming cameos, although in the middle order, in New Zealand, but was rattled by the pace and bounce of Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins in Australia - the scene of the T20 World Cup later this year.
With Danushka Gunathilaka providing the attacking enterprise at the top, Sri Lanka are looking for a failsafe at the other end rather than another big-hitter. Dickwella can't make it to the XI as a frontline keeper either as Sri Lanka's management believes Kusal Perera is currently a safer option behind the stumps.
On the eve of the third T20I against India in Pune, Arthur suggested that Sri Lanka were considering both Mendis and Oshada as middle-order options with a mere outside chance of being bumped up to the top.
"I think Oshada and Kusal Mendis are batsmen that can bat for us through the middle," Arthur said. "So, that's going to be their roles going forward."
T20 cricket isn't Mendis' strongest suit and although he can't strike big blows, he is adept at manipulating the gaps by chipping the ball over the infield. Mendis' strike rate has been significantly higher, in the 140s while opening, but there's no place at the top for him now.
Oshada has never opened in limited-overs cricket so far and the highest position he has batted at is No.3, but this strike rate of just a shade under 50 there isn't encouraging. Nevertheless, these are still early days yet for the 27-year-old.