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Match Reports,07 July 2015

Leie, Phangiso spin South Africa home

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Jayawardena banking on crowd support to win first ICC title

Sri Lanka captain wants to take one round at a time and set small goals for the team

Jayawardena banking on crowd support to win first ICC title - Cricket News
Mahela Jayawardena, Captain of Sri Lanka speaks to the media
Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardena is keen to finally lead his side to triumph at a global ICC event, during the upcoming ICC World Twenty20 2012.

Sri Lanka has been the runner-up at the ICC World Twenty20 2009 to Pakistan. It finished second to Australia at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 under Jayawardena. And later in Mumbai, despite a hundred from Jayawardena, finished as runner-up to India at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 final.

Jayawardena is desperate now to change the record and finally go one better at the ICC World Twenty20 2012.

"Our exploits at the previous ICC events means that we are getting into those situations which is a good positive for us. We are playing good cricket to reach the semi-final and final. So it means we are doing a lot of things right. Now we need to focus on one round at a time and set little goals for ourselves to win the tournament,'' said Jayawardena at the inaugural press conference of the ICC World Twenty20 2012 in Colombo on Monday.

Jayawardena is banking on home advantage as well as support from local crowds to go all the way.

''This is twenty20 cricket which means all the 12 teams have a great opportunity. Obviously we have a slight advantage because of the conditions despite the fact that the pitches have been relaid. Then there is also the factor of fans being behind us. The support of the fans will be the most important thing for us,'' said Jayawardena.

The good news for Sri Lanka, conveyed by Jayawardena himself, has been the fact that veteran batsman-wicket-keeper Kumar Sangakkara is fit to play the tournament. Sangakkara suffered a finger injury during the recent series against India and had been named in the squad provisionally.

"Kumar is coming on well. He has been buzzing our coaches to try and get extra nets because he has missed out on a few. Apart from him, Nuwan (Kulasekara) is about 80-90 per cent fit. He is slowly recovering from his groin injury,'' informed Jayawardena.

The Sri Lanka captain is most excited about the addition of two new caps to the side-batsman Dilshan Munaweera and mystery off-spinner Akila Dananjaya.

"We are all very excited about Dilshan (Munaweera). He has been on our radar for some time. He has matured a lot after getting opportunities with the A side. He brings a breath of fresh air. Akila on the other hand is someone we have fast tracked. He surprised us by bowling well in the SLPL despite not having played any first-class cricket. He showed that he can make the right calls despite not having the experience,'' said Jayawardena.

With all the exciting options at his command, Jayawardena has decided to be flexible about his role in the squad.

"I try to be flexible in the T20 format. We have got a very versatile squad and have various options. We have not made up our mind on what I will do. As a general rule, I will be taking more responsibility as we have a young team. I hope to guide them in the right direction,'' added Jayawardena.

As one of the only two surviving captains (Mahendra Singh Dhoni from India is the other) from the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 in 2007, Jayawardena was amazed at the growth of Twenty20 as a format in five years.

"The game has developed and evolved quite a bit. In the first edition in 2007 we were all new to the concept. We had not played much in this format as a team. In South Africa then we found it difficult to find the right combination as we were not sure what kind of player would suit this format. But now we have T20 specialists doing different roles. Teams have changed, tactics have changed. Some of the tactics have also been used in ODI and Test cricket as well,'' said Jayawardena.

Sri Lanka could be the only side playing at all three venues-Colombo, Hambantota and Pallekele-during the ICC World Twenty20 2012.Jayawardena is excited about taking the tournament to different venues for the fans.

"As the home team it would be good to give our fans some exciting cricket to watch. We have got those two games in Hambantota, that remains our first little goal. Once we get through that we can think of the other venues. We do not want to think too far ahead of ourselves,'' concluded Jayawardena.

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