Sri Lanka v New Zealand, 1st T20, Pallekele November 18, 2013

'Sri Lanka on track for World T20' - Ford

Having been bridesmaids in two of the last three World Twenty20s, Sri Lanka have already set their sights on the next edition in Bangladesh in March. Coach Graham Ford will no longer be with the team when that tournament arrives, but he said Sri Lanka have begun down the path to success, ahead of the first Twenty20 against New Zealand. The match in Pallekele is the first of six scheduled T20s for Sri Lanka before the world tournament.

"As far as the T20 World Cup goes, the team has got a fantastic chance," Ford said. "They have played good T20 cricket for a period of time now, and are drawn in a favourable group. Plus the conditions should suit our style of cricket and the real bonus is that we'll have a series in Bangladesh just prior to the world tournament. There's lots to be positive about and I'm really looking forward to watching from a distance and seeing the boys lift the cup."

Specialised training sessions intended to spur innovative batting have been introduced during Ford's tenure, and they have begun to pay dividends with several batsmen having widened their stroke repertoire. Ford said the benefits from these sessions would be most keenly felt in the shortest format, where Sri Lanka have been the top-ranked side since last September.

"It is important to play with freedom and be inventive," Ford said. "Tillakaratne Dilshan was the leading example initially, of being able to play and be inventive - especially in T20 cricket. As we progressed, we realised that if we could have more guys able to hit the ball in awkward areas, it would make us a more powerful unit. If you've only got one or two guys who can improvise, if they don't have a good day we are going to come second on the day. It is also about being confident about improvisation. It's no good suddenly trying to play an invented shot which you have never practiced."

Sri Lanka's selectors have picked five spin-bowling options in the 15-man T20 squad, and Ford said this too was a strategy devised with the World T20 in mind. In addition to frontline spinners Sachithra Senanayake and Ajantha Mendis, spin-bowling allrounders Ramith Rambukwella and Seekkuge Prasanna have been named in the squad. Dilshan's offspin has also been increasingly used in internationals over the past year.

"The selectors have had a look ahead and they are thinking about possible conditions in Bangladesh, where preparing spinners is important. The spinners are all quite unique. A couple of them are spinning allrounders, and in T20 cricket, allrounders are important. We've got a number of seamer allrounders, but maybe down the line, conditions are better suited to spin allrounders. They are just having a look at covering the options at the moment."

Ford also lauded the quality of the cricket produced by New Zealand's visiting side, despite the absence of several key players. The visitors drew the ODI series 1-1.

"I am not all surprised (the way) New Zealand have performed. There were a few comments about them not having a full-strength side, but I am very much aware that their cricketing depth has increased massively over the last couple of years. They played an under-strength team in South Africa in ODI cricket, and they beat South Africa, which doesn't happen that often. They also beat England in an ODI series in England. They are a dangerous team and they've got some very good one-day and T20 players."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Khub on November 20, 2013, 5:06 GMT

    @Shane-oh, i didnt say 2 leave them 4m the team.. READ the comment perfectly nd then say... they r fine with their form But why they'r playing at number 1,2,3??? thats the point i wanna make....

  • Dummy4 on November 19, 2013, 21:51 GMT

    A good player should be able to bat at any position. Let's say Dilshan, Sanga and Mahela came at 1,2,3 then got out. What an opportunity for the other batsmen to prove that they are capable of playing some winning knocks. They just throw their wicket away. It's the lack of confidence and they are not prepared to take a responsibility. Added to that they try to be sudden heroes and get a good pay at IPL. Things have to be changed soon.

  • Shane on November 19, 2013, 12:02 GMT

    @CrICkeeet - Sangakkara and Jayawardene are still 2 of the classiest, most consistent batsmen in the world. Sangakarra especially has, if anything, starting scoring more in the last 2 years or so - not easy considering how much he was scoring before! Forget about age, it's irrelevant - enjoy having guys who are serious all time greats in your team! They continue to deliver in all 3 formats, so keep on picking them.

  • Dummy4 on November 19, 2013, 9:49 GMT

    Being optimistic doesn't help much be a bit realistic and see where chandimal stand in t20 being the captain. Lets hope thiri, chandi, kusal, dimuth rise into the occasion but whats behind the scene is that SL must look for a good fast bowler because malinga is a bit inconsistent - no offence, great fan of malinga but its the sad truth.

  • Pasenadee on November 19, 2013, 9:21 GMT

    Ah Rambukwella, the new Mubarak. Gets into the side on the back of a one off performance against some B Grade outfit. As for the future, it will be fine. Just like f Sanga, Mahela and Dilshan took over from the old guard, after their retirement after 2015 WC, Chandimal, Thirimanne, and Mathews will take over and move forward. It would be good to see more of the younger guys be gelled into the team to give them a taste of the real deal.

  • Dummy4 on November 19, 2013, 6:18 GMT

    my xi would be as follows t.m.dilshan d.chandimal sangakkara lahiru mahela t.perera kule sachith malinga k.perera a.mendis

  • mano on November 19, 2013, 6:02 GMT

    Yes mate Ramansilva, Who thought SL bowling recover after Muralli retirement. Its undestand most of the fine bowlers were hidden under the shadows of legand murali. After that Rangana, Senananayaka and all come out. Its natural every where. But that does not mean you must make seniors retire to make way for new comers. If the age is the barrier India should have omit Tendulkar few years back.

  • Raman on November 19, 2013, 5:25 GMT

    @CriCkeet, Don't see through your black glasses. You will see everythign so gloomy. When Arjuna, Aravanida and company retired some armchair critics like you said the same thing. Sanath, Marvan and company came to replace them. When they retired Sanga, Mahela and company came forward. I am optimistic that Chandimal, Tirimanna and company follow suit. Let SL team sort out their own issues. You relax and enjoy cricket.

  • Khub on November 19, 2013, 3:32 GMT

    SL will on track until Dilshan, sanga nd jayawerdene nt retiring.. bt after they all leave intl. cricket (nt so far, who knws mayb after world cup 2015), they'll hardly find a track.. nd funny that their selectors playing them at number 1,2,3.. they'v 2 take risk in some matches sending new sm1 up... it might cost sm momentum in sm matches earlier but they should do that 2 adjust them... atleast try

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