Sri Lanka ICC World Twenty20 2016 Tournament Preview & Guide
The team has hit a bit of a trough in recent times, but has a habit of lifting its game at big ICC events
11 March 2016 16:45
Things have been difficult for Sri Lanka, but with the tournament being held in the subcontinent, Sri Lanka will fancy its chances of lifting its game, as it has a habit of doing in big tournaments.
History: Despite the unpredictability of the format, Sri Lanka has been one of the most consistent sides at the World T20. It has made the knockout stages in all the editions barring the inaugural one in 2007, finished as runner-up in 2009 and 2012 and won the title in 2014.
Pool: Sri Lanka is in Group 1, alongside West Indies, England, South Africa and the Group B Qualifier
Captain: Angelo Mathews
Coach: Graham Ford
Sri Lanka has admittedly not had the best of lead-ups to the World T20 but it has also been due to the injury concerns to some key senior players. It included Lasith Malinga and Angelo Mathews for the Asia Cup, where it finished one from bottom after losing three of its four matches.
But all of that will be in the past as it is a side that loves the big stage. The squad traveling to India has a blend of experience and talented youth, and if they can fire in unison, Sri Lanka will be a team to watch out for. Sri Lanka is also the only team from the subcontinent in its group, which is an advantage.
Sri Lanka’s strength is its versatile bowling attack led by Malinga, if he is fit. His ability to destroy batting line-ups with his pinpoint yorkers need no elaboration but the side’s attack is not all about him. Sri Lanka has a number of bowling options powered by many all-rounders while the wily Rangana Herath could be a handful on Indian pitches. The batting lacks some experience but in Tillakaratne Dilshan, Dinesh Chandimal and Mathews, it is not short on firepower.
At the Asia Cup, Sri Lanka lost to Pakistan by six wickets, to India by five wickets, and to Bangladesh by 23 runs, but defeated United Arab Emirates by 14 runs in its first match.
Angelo Mathews: It’s difficult to emphasise Mathews’s importance to the Sri Lankan side across formats enough. He is a batsman who can adapt to any situation and is also one of its frontline bowlers. Apart from his contributions in both departments, Mathews is also an able leader and is the face of Sri Lankan cricket’s next generation. Mathews made his T20I debut in 2009 and has played 62 matches since, scoring 862 runs and picking up 33 wickets.
One to watch
Lahiru Thirimanne: A late draft into the squad, Thirimanne provides invaluable stability to the top order. His forte has been Test cricket but he has also earned his place in a dynamic batting order in the shortest format. He is an opening batsman as such but also plays the role of a floater according to the team’s needs. His T20 numbers might not be among the best, but Sri Lanka will know the value he adds to the line-up.
Dinesh Chandimal: One of the most innovative batsmen in the side, Chandimal has risen as one of the mainstays of the Sri Lankan line-up. He has scored 546 runs from 38 T20Is with ten sixes, but his overall T20 record is a lot more impressive – 2045 runs from 88 matches at a strike rate of close to 120, with 48 sixes. Chandimal, who also led Sri Lanka recently in the absence of Mathews and Malinga, was promoted as an opener in the Asia Cup – an opportunity he grabbed by scoring two half-centuries in four games.
- Malinga and Dilshan are among 19 players to feature in their sixth consecutive World T20.
- Sri Lanka and Pakistan are the only two teams to have made it to the knockout stages of four World T20s.
- Sri Lanka has won the most matches in World T20 history – 22 of 31 played.
- Sri Lanka has three players in the top four to have scored most runs in World T20s – Jayawardena tops the charts with 1016 runs, while Dilshan (764) and Sangakkara (661) are third and fourth respectively.
- Sri Lanka also has two players in the top three among bowlers with most wickets in World T20s – Malinga leads with 38 wickets while Ajantha Mendis is in third place with 35 scalps.
Against West Indies at M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore on Sunday, March 20
The winners of the last two editions of the World T20 have a bit of a history in the shortest format. West Indies denied Sri Lanka a win in front of its home fans in Colombo in 2012 but Sri Lanka hit back two years later, defeating West Indies in the semi-final en route its maiden title. It’s the second match in the tournament for both sides and likely to be a crucial one for qualification to the knockouts.
What people are saying about them
"Not going in as favourites, it is doing a favour for us. We have admitted that we haven't played good cricket in the Asia Cup. But the morale, well, the morale in the team is quite good.” – Angelo Mathews
"I am confident of taking my form to the World T20. I played well against Pakistan in Asia Cup. That gave me a lot of confidence. I am confident and I will play Dilscoop in the competition. I am not afraid of playing that shot and nowadays my son has started playing Dilscoop better than me." – Tillakaratne Dilshan
“Sri Lanka might not be going well now but the team will bounce back. I have seen Sri Lanka cricket for many years, Sri Lanka always bounce back. They have quality players and hope they'll do well in the World T20.” – Chaminda Vaas
Pommie Mbangwa prediction
Semifinals - I am going out on a limb with regard to the defending champions and I think they will just get out of the super 10s. It was a tight call between them and England but went for them as the tournament is in the subcontinent and they are the defending champs. Angelo Mathews has had time to grow as a leader somewhat under the tutelage of the two stalwarts of Sri Lankan cricket Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. Lasith Malinga, Dinesh Chandimal, Thisara Perera, Tillikaratne Dilshan and Rangana Herath must come to the fore and theirs I feel will be a real team effort with many chipping in.
Squad: Lasith Malinga (capt), Angelo Mathews (vice-capt), Dinesh Chandimal (wk), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Lahiru Thirimanne, Shehan Jayasuriya, Milinda Siriwardena, Dasun Shanaka, Chamara Kapugedara, Nuwan Kulasekara, Dushmantha Chameera, Thisara Perera, Sachithra Senanayake, Rangana Herath, Suranga Lakmal.
Thursday, March 17: v B1, Eden Gardens, Kolkata
Sunday, March 20: v West Indies, M Chinnaswamy stadium, Bangalore
Saturday, March 26: v England, Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi
Monday, March 28: v South Africa, Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi