Slots open for World T20 squad - Jayawardene
Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene has said there are four-five open spots in the squad for the World Twenty20, and that the side will use their final Twenty20 international before the tournament, against India in Pallekele tomorrow, to identify roles for a few players. Jayawardene said Sri Lanka was trying to develop a team for the future and that he was excited by the young talent available.
"It [The T20 international against India] is significant to identify few roles for some of the players," Jayawardene said. "We did that against Pakistan as well. We played different combinations in the two T20Is to accommodate few players in different roles. We will try and do the same here. During the Sri Lanka Premier League (starting August 11), we will get to know which of our players are in form and the combination that we need to go with. We have got a fairly good idea - about 75% to 80% - of our squad. But still there are four or five places up for grabs."
Jayawardene said he was impressed by the performances of some of the young players in the recently-concluded ODI series, which Sri Lanka lost 1-4 to India.
"The youngsters are identifying their roles. I was impressed with the way [Lahiru] Thirimanne batted the other day [in the fifth ODI], held the innings together, batted through the innings. He showed a lot of aggression when he wanted. Jeevan [Mendis] is becoming a much better allrounder. Those components are fitting into our combination really well. There are certain areas we have to fine-tune. Unfortunately [Dinesh] Chandimal didn't have a great series, but we know the talent he possesses."
Jayawardene said that when he took back the captaincy six months ago, his challenge was to develop a team for the future. "We are teaching players how to handle situations. Sometimes they will make mistakes but as long as they learn from that it's important. When the opportunity comes we would like them to take control of the team and take us forward. What we are trying to do is to harness that and make sure they are in a comfortable situation handling international cricket. There are a few young guys we have identified from the Under-19 and various other squads. We need to slowly introduce them in the next six months or so and try and build a team."
Sri Lanka have several promising players such as Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Chandimal and Thirimanne but Jayawardene said the challenge for them was to perform consistently over a long period.
"It's about them being consistent and improving as individual players. It is one thing that you have the talent but it is another thing that you need to perform day in and day out over a period of time. It can be five-six-ten years. We want to identify players who can do that. They need to work hard and we will try to help them as much as they can."
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo