Chandimal used break to work on weaknesses
Sri Lanka vice-captain Dinesh Chandimal said an extended break from international cricket and the recent practice tournament in Pallekele had put him in good shape to succeed at the Champions Trophy in England and Wales. Chandimal led the Rest of Sri Lanka side to victory in the 10-day List A tri-series, which primarily sought to prepare the Sri Lanka side for the Champions Trophy. Only six members of the squad traveling to England took part in the tri-series, however, with the rest having been in India for the IPL.
"The domestic tournament was a great way to train for the Champions Trophy because we played in Kandy and the tracks had a lot of seam movement and bounce," he said. "As batsmen, that has helped us adjust mentally for England and we've kept English conditions in mind when we have been training as well, so we hope to do well."
Chandimal turned down an informal approach from an IPL franchise in April, opting instead to undertake an intensive training programme in Sri Lanka during that time. That decision was largely driven by the prospect of having increased access to the national coaching staff with most of his team-mates out of the country, as well as the likelihood that he may not have played many matches in the IPL. His training in Sri Lanka largely concentrated on improving his limited overs batting, which had not been among his strengths in the last year.
"I had a few weaknesses in my technique, and I was lucky to have this month-and-a-half to correct those shortcomings." he said. "I worked on each of those things with Marvan Attapattu and at the moment I feel as if I'm in a good rhythm. Hopefully that work will show in England."
Chandimal's last tour of England brought his second ODI hundred - at Lords - and so far in his limited-overs international career, he has also tended to bat better outside the subcontinent than within it. Despite his work with the coaches, he does not go into the tournament in his best form, having averaged only 26.60 in the List A tournament.
"I guess you try to bat well wherever you play, but I have done well in England, so I'm hoping to repeat that," he said. "The key is to know how to make runs even when you haven't been batting well. You have to figure out how to succeed again, and do it quickly."
Sri Lanka have not played an international since the Bangladesh tour finished on March 31, but they will look to finalise combinations and acclimatise in the three warm-up encounters they play before the tournament. Chandimal said the experience of that 2011 tour and previous trips to England would make adjusting to the climate and conditions a deal more straightforward.
"It's the first cricket we're playing together after a while, but I think we are all positive." he said. "If you look at our squad, we have experience, but even the younger players have played in England, so we are ready for it. We're playing outside the subcontinent so it will be a challenge, but we do have bowlers who can take advantage of the situations we will encounter." he said. "As long as we play to our potential, we have the team to win the tournament."
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here