May 31, 2012

The start of World Twenty20 preparations

The games against Pakistan, and the one against India, are the chance to zero in on our perfect Twenty20 squad

It's been a long season on the road for myself, having played a full season of the IPL. I knew it was going to be particularly long so in order to stay fit and alert, I have been trying to keep things simple, focus on my game and manage recoveries properly. Touch wood, things have been okay so far. I also make sure I do not push myself too hard. I don't see us getting any breaks real soon, at least till the next IPL.

There is a lot of Twenty20 cricket being played and over the years, I think our players have got a measure of it to a certain extent. But like any other format, it keeps evolving. People are coming up with new tactics so you need to keep ahead of everybody else. You can't make too many mistakes in the shorter versions.

Personally, Twenty20 has taken me back to the way I used to play. In that sense, the freedom with which I play my strokes doesn't really surprise me because as a schoolboy, this was how I batted. I used to play quite aggressively. When I started playing international cricket, I realised I really had to tighten my game and take more responsibility. In Test cricket you don't always have too much freedom. In one-dayers, for a long period of time you have to build your innings, especially at my position at No. 4. Opening the batting has given me the same kind of freedom I enjoyed as a schoolboy.

I have enjoyed a fair amount of success as an opener in Twenty20, but my presence at the top depends on the team combination. Tillakaratne Dilshan and I have built up a decent opening partnership in the last couple of years or so. Even in one-day cricket I regularly open the batting. We're trying to be more flexible as well, because going into the World T20, we need to have a good idea on what kind of squad we need. We're using these two games, plus the one T20 against India, to find the right combination so we will mix and match. This is the start of an important series for us so we need to make a statement.

It's a fact that we've hardly played Twenty20 cricket as a unit over the last six months. However, if you look at the IPL, quite a few of our players were involved in it in one way or the other so, individually, that's a lot of Twenty20 cricket. With the three upcoming games (two against Pakistan and one with India), plus the upcoming Sri Lanka Premier League, that should be enough to prepare us for the World T20.

Those players who have not had the benefit of match practice in the IPL have been training over the last few weeks on their fitness. The period after the England Tests was the best time to do that. They've also spent time working on their skill sets. We had about six-seven guys training specifically for the Test series and some for the ODIs and T20s. Taking Dinesh Chandimal's example, halfway through the IPL his franchise realised he wasn't going to play so he was sent back to train with the national squad. It was nice of Rajasthan Royals to release him. It has all been done in a systematic way so that the preparation hasn't been compromised.

As for our bowling reserves, I feel Nuwan Kulasekara is right up there to give Lasith Malinga the support he needs. We're trying a few young guys so we need to see how they come up. Thisara (Perera) and Angelo (Mathews) have been around for a while so I'm glad I've got a couple of allrounders I can always bank on. I'm also very excited about Sachithra Senanayake, the offspinner, who had a good time in Australia. Ajantha Mendis is coming back from injury, so we're going to gradually build him up, perhaps try him at some point in the Pakistan series or against India. We rested Rangana (Herath) because he had a knee operation but he might play him in the one-dayers. There's good competition as well and it's healthy.

Pakistan will be a challenge because have a nice blend of youth and experience. From the squad of 15, they've got a lot of variety in their bowling armoury. What makes them competitive is the sort of bowling options available, apart from the specialists. All in all, it should be a competitive T20 series.

Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene is the country's leading Test run-scorer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on June 1, 2012, 23:43 GMT

    SL will win 2-0 against Pak- they will also win the World T20 this year

  • Asitha on June 1, 2012, 18:01 GMT

    Mahela you are one of the BEST captain and a good player against spin, however I don't thin you are NOT the ideal player to OPEN for SL. You are not a naturally aggrieve player like DLISHA or Jaysooria. We have plenty of naturally aggressive players in SL but they don't get their opportunist's to bat on the TOP at least in T20 thanks to you (Mahela) and Sanagaara. I think Banuka or Kapugadar should give a chance to open. If you really like to open the batting open in TEST not in T20.Players like Kapugadara and Banuka are naturally aggressive players should bat higher in T20 also Tisara Perara should bat higher like DONI. If Kapgara don't open he should at least bat ahead of Mahela and Sagakara. If the youngster fail at least experience players can build the inning not the other-way round.

  • khurram on June 1, 2012, 16:54 GMT

    very poor from pakistans specially all the come back men, only ahmed shehzad stayed a bit longer. rest of them very poor. khalid latif havent got 20 over strike rate more than 100. you cant pick only on basis of bpl. sami failed as ever. shoiab malik always good in domestic for past many years but international comebacks very poor.

    afridi & akmal played iresponsibly as usual. umar gul was also expensive. pakistan should have played hamad azam or 1 more batsman. they didnt even bowled malik & afrid also not bowled full.they badly need a batting medium pace allrounder.

  • khurram on June 1, 2012, 16:54 GMT

    i dont agree with this talk that players get match wining practice from ipl bpl ppl or slpl or whatever. if this was tru india would have won all 3 t20 cups or in finals of all 3. last ipl was just before t20 cups.even this match most of league players didnt performed too well.

  • Wicky on June 1, 2012, 8:59 GMT

    @Kavum,lolz,also add ths nonesense"shakib z best,shakib z legend,blah blah blah,"i dn't know what these bd people would have done had they got 1 or 2 more of these type of ove.ratd plyrs,hahaha

  • Dummy4 on June 1, 2012, 8:47 GMT

    Its going to be a competition between Pakistani bowlers and Sri lankan batsmen, Pakistani batting looks weak on paper but if they can bat well they have the bowling to beat Sri Lanka. None of the Sri Lankan batsmen had a fantastic IPL so they are not in best of form. My prediction 1-1

  • Sinhhalaya on June 1, 2012, 6:25 GMT

    June=rain in SL; even in arid zone Hambantota at times. May be the best chance to avoid a hammering. Malinga's bowling dropped away alarmingly towards the end of the Incredibly Pointless League and Sanga was woeful. Dilly and Mahela were on the low side of average. Overrated Mathews and Kula were well below par and could not make any impact. Good luck and may the better team (guess who?) win. Bring back Tamim!! (Sorry read too many comments from Pune Warriors/Bangla fans)

  • Rumesh on June 1, 2012, 4:37 GMT

    Most of the Sri Lankans players have come back from a tough season of competaive IPL matches and are match fit whereas all pakistani players were watching our Sri lankan players on TV sets playing IPL. My prediction -->Sri lanka 2-0.

  • rahul on June 1, 2012, 4:31 GMT


  • Dummy4 on June 1, 2012, 4:09 GMT

    I think Pakistan team is fresh and fit right now and chances they can beat a tired IPL Sri lanka side. Thanks to IPL that present Pakistanis squad were not considered for IPL and it would do world of good to Pakistanis in the important T20 international encounter instead of the T20 Domestic IPL encounter.

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