World Twenty20 2012

Can Sri Lanka strike big at home?

Andrew Fernando

September 17, 2012

Comments: 29 | Text size: A | A

Disappointed Sri Lanka players watch their opponents life the trophy, India v Sri Lanka, final, World Cup 2011, Mumbai, April 2, 2011
Three big finals and three losses - Sri Lankan fans would expect more at home this time © Getty Images
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Series/Tournaments: ICC World Twenty20
Teams: Sri Lanka


Sri Lanka enter the World Twenty20 under more pressure to win the title than usual, and this is only partly because they are hosts. They have failed the final test thrice in limited-overs world events since 2007, and fans are growing weary of the bridesmaids label. The team will assert that they have done well to make it so far, so often, and given their lack of consistency between major tournaments, they may be right - but that does not dim the agony of being repeatedly pipped at the finish.

Even now, some lament the 2011 World Cup final and dwell on the could-have-beens. Perhaps unfairly. There is not much grace for a team who have performed to expectation in crunch games. But their best was not good enough against better teams in previous finals. Unless Sri Lanka can lift their performance to get their hands on that trophy, they will underwhelm fans at home.

The team is also coming into the end of a transition phase, with the young players in the side now showing more skill and maturity. Thisara Perera has been on the forefront of that transformation with the ball, while Angelo Mathews is on the way to becoming one of the game's best finishers. Others like Shaminda Eranga and Dilshan Munaweera will find the current set up a much more stable atmosphere to settle into and than it was twelve months ago when the team was in the middle of a post-World Cup funk. With Mahela Jayawardene set to reassess his captaincy in January, the youngsters must come into their own and reassure the fans that the path ahead is a bright one. What better stage to do that than at a big tournament at home?

Key players

Mahela Jayawardene has plenty to ponder even before the tournament has begun. He is largely responsible for Akila Dananjaya's elevation to the national team, but when and how should the 18-year-old be used in a manner that will both aid Sri Lanka in the short term and promote Dananjaya's own development? Beyond Dananjaya, how to manage an attack that relies partly on its uniqueness to be effective, against opponents who may have grown wise to its wiles?

In addition to all this, as the team's best Twenty20 batsman, Jayawardene must also ensure his own game is on song. If Munaweera opens alongside Tillakaratne Dilshan, he will have to play telling innings from a less-favoured batting position. 

Surprise package

Shaminda Eranga has shown capacity to impress on a variety of surfaces, and Sri Lanka will require that of their bowlers, as they will have to do well at all three venues if they are to go deep into the tournament. His movement will help at the seam-friendly venues and his pace off the pitch will be handy in Colombo in the knockout matches, if Sri Lanka get that far.


The lower middle order has been Sri Lanka's downfall in limited-overs cricket in recent years, and this tournament shows no signs of reversing that trend. Kumar Sangakkara provides much-needed solidity to the batting from three or four, but aggression is not his game, and with either Lahiru Thirimanne or Dinesh Chandimal set to follow him to the crease, Sri Lanka run the risk of playing one too many accumulators. As was the case in the warm-up match against India, the finishers could be left with too much to do. 

World T20 history

Sri Lanka's best World Twenty20 tournament was in 2009, where a varied attack took them to the final, which they lost to Pakistan. In 2007 they faltered in the Super Eights, while in 2010, they lost a semi final to eventual champions England. 

Recent form

In the three Twenty20s Sri Lanka have played in 2012, they have lost two, and won one, but given the infrequency of matches, perhaps their one-day form is a better indicator. They lost four of the five ODIs in a home bilateral series against India, though they had good outings against Pakistan in June and in Australia earlier in the year.

Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Sri Lanka

RSS Feeds: Andrew Fidel Fernando

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by AMRules on (September 18, 2012, 17:05 GMT)

why there is no opening ceremony for the world cup

Posted by AMRules on (September 18, 2012, 15:23 GMT)

What....shocked n surprised to hear there is no WorldT20 opening ceremony. How come SL said yes to Hawk-eye. Weird decisions and strange country.

Posted by dakshpratapcric on (September 18, 2012, 14:49 GMT)


Posted by   on (September 18, 2012, 11:58 GMT)

Yes, kupu must play this tournament. Be cox he is in good touch since SLPL.

Posted by zan_69 on (September 18, 2012, 11:30 GMT)


Posted by Pushpe001 on (September 18, 2012, 4:49 GMT)

The team selection is good for sri lanka...but we have to change according to the team,specially the venue...for matches play in pallekale,helpful to the seamers...we can play one spinner and eranga,thisara,mathews,malinga and kula...with other venues,we can include 2 spinners and 3 fast bowlers....but selection must be done how they play in recent past with that specific country and how they perform...the batting line up is bit ok...we can use chandimal or thirimanne in that place...but kapugedara is the best suit in that position...but the squad can not rely on him...because of his inconsistence...even in the slpl,he didn't show what he can do in first few games,but blasted after selecting the national squad...

Posted by satish619chandar on (September 18, 2012, 4:15 GMT)

Would still name SL and one of the semifinalist and even finalist. From then, it would be great if they can win the tournament. They have been in few finals and not sure whether they choke in there or not that confident in the finals. But fi they win, there will be many more to come i suppose. Their slow medium pace bowling all rounders gives then the advantage over other teams. Three type of all rounders. Kula a bowler who can bat, Mathews a batsman who can bat and Thissera who can with with bat/ball on his day. Plus, the experienced guys in Dilshan, Mahela, Sanga, Malinga and Herath. The performance of the rest 3 slots will be a bonus for them. Got some exciting options in Munaweera, Dhanenjeya, Thirimanne, Eranga, Chandimal, Mendis to chose from. The big 8 wil be the key and the rest 3 the surprise elements.

Posted by   on (September 18, 2012, 2:21 GMT)

SL is in Group C with SA. It could also qualify for 'C' label when it comes to finals.

Posted by   on (September 18, 2012, 1:13 GMT)

SL will make it to the semis...but the games after that will be tight against the best teams...

Posted by MattyP1979 on (September 17, 2012, 19:21 GMT)

Although a fan of SL cricket they like Ind need to find some bowlers (at all levels). Posting massive totals and articles about the newest batting sensations are not helping SL/Ind being taken seriously as cricket nations. Balance is the key to winning at all levels in all conditions something sub-cont teams are struggling with.

Posted by   on (September 17, 2012, 17:37 GMT)

Current form of our team is not at its best. So, they are not the favourites. But, our team do miracles in large scale tournaments. So, we stand a chance. All non asian teams play poorly againt our spiners. India can't beat us every day. They will be beaten at some point.

Posted by Lakpj on (September 17, 2012, 16:42 GMT)

@Taij Chand for you info SL rolled over WI in one of the warmup games, hard to see the oppersite happening though. And I don't think India can make it to the semis from their super 8 group with Pak, SA and Aus init. if they do I have not doubt that they would win the cup.

Posted by   on (September 17, 2012, 15:46 GMT)

Its good to start the tournament as underdogs as this article says. Because when ever srilankan rated underdogs we showed our talent in high time. Good luck to MK and co to win the tournament and show all those what this lion nation is. God Bless you.

Posted by Karnain on (September 17, 2012, 15:44 GMT)

Sri Lankan middle order needs an aggressive player to ease the pressure off for the likes of Sanga & Thirimanne. That's why I think Thisara Pereare should be used wisely in the batting order as he has improved his batting tremendously over the last few months. But how many times we have seen him sent in to bat after the horse is bolted in the ODIs against India? Come-on Mahela, he (Thisara) is a better batsman than Shahid Afridi.

Posted by boundryhiter46 on (September 17, 2012, 14:43 GMT)

Sri Lanka will surely feel Chamara Kapugedera absence..

Posted by   on (September 17, 2012, 13:37 GMT)

SL is in extremely bad form, judging from their recent games (all forms ) I personally don't think they stand any chance in this competition. Teams like IND,PAK,SA, and WI will roll over them with ease. The youngsters are yet to be proven. It will be lef to the old heads - Sangakkara,Mahela, and Dilshan to show any kind of resistance.

Posted by Mevan on (September 17, 2012, 13:35 GMT)

For the Twenty-20 matches, the batsman we need at 5 is neither Thirimanne nor Chandimal, but Chamara Kapugedara, who can hit sixes to any part of the field.

Posted by   on (September 17, 2012, 13:34 GMT)

my team for sl>>>1 mahela 2 TM dilshan 3.thisara perera 4.sanga 5.mathews 6. thirimanne 7.jeewan mendis 8.nuwan 9.eranga 10.malinga 11 akila/mendis

if sl have to play munaweera then they nned to play him at the expense of Jeewan mendis coz malingai, kule thisara mathews, eranga and mendis can fill up the overs with dilly. i wish eranga should open the bowling and pls rest malinga against india!!!!

Posted by Afta on (September 17, 2012, 13:30 GMT)

Fine assessment by Andrew Fernando and I totally agree with him. Its all about finishers. We have more accumulators in our team than those who can take the game to the opposition. T20 is all about setting targets or reaching targets. True we need guys who could restrict the opposition, but at the end of the day what matters is, runs on the scoreboard. We shall choke untill then..!

Posted by   on (September 17, 2012, 13:21 GMT)

each member of the team will hav to play their respective roles instead of depending on a few to make things happen... thats the only way we will get to lift the cup..good luck to the lions...

Posted by Muralibomb on (September 17, 2012, 13:18 GMT)

SL can win. They're on of the best T20 teams and the boys are behind them.

Posted by Solace1 on (September 17, 2012, 13:09 GMT)

Their fans should be happy that they atleast made 3finals because i don't know how lanka will progress beyond the super 8 stage this time around, so that will leave their fans to still keep on boasting about making it to the CB series finals!!

Posted by warneneverchuck on (September 17, 2012, 13:04 GMT)

SL will be knocked out in semis

Posted by 777aditya on (September 17, 2012, 13:02 GMT)

Only Chunkey Pandey can ask this question followed by his impish "I am joking!" - SL are a definite semis team. After that, its anyone's cup.

Posted by Masroor1972 on (September 17, 2012, 13:00 GMT)

20/20 cricket is rubbish,one can't judge a team in this format.Any one can win it, Ireland and Bangladesh are also contenders.

Posted by g.narsimha on (September 17, 2012, 12:48 GMT)

there is tremandus pressure on SL no doubt , i will be happy any one team from this region wins this cup i dont think cup will be taken away from the subcontinant .best of luck-SL.

Posted by   on (September 17, 2012, 12:40 GMT)

with the likes of munaweera , dilshan , mahela , sanga, mathews ,j mendis ,perera , do u call this batting line up lacks powere at the end??? then u gotta be kidding mr andrew .. in my view i think its the best allround team in the competition .. and dnt 4 get india game was a warm up match and mahela came 2 bat at no 7 to giv a go 2 thirimanna .. i think its 1 of the bst srilankan squads i've seen in a wrld cup .. so dont write of srilanka folks , cause they r gonna hit big this time !!!

Posted by guptahitesh4u on (September 17, 2012, 12:33 GMT)

Though this format is unpredictable, SL does not hold any chances to win this tournament!! WI, SA, Pak and Ind have more chances comes Aus,Eng, ...and than SL,NZ

Posted by   on (September 17, 2012, 12:32 GMT)

wow andrew, awesome article... hats off , and btw look good in tricolors

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Tournament Results
Sri Lanka v West Indies at Colombo (RPS) - Oct 7, 2012
West Indies won by 36 runs
Australia v West Indies at Colombo (RPS) - Oct 5, 2012
West Indies won by 74 runs
Sri Lanka v Pakistan at Colombo (RPS) - Oct 4, 2012
Sri Lanka won by 16 runs
India v South Africa at Colombo (RPS) - Oct 2, 2012
India won by 1 run
Australia v Pakistan at Colombo (RPS) - Oct 2, 2012
Pakistan won by 32 runs
More results »
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