'We can be the underdog that strikes' - Mubarak
Wayamba, Sri Lanka's domestic Twenty20 champions, are banking on their mix of youth and experience as they head to India to contest the inaugural Champions Twenty20 League starting October 8.
"We have a well-balanced side and most of our opponents haven't seen us performing together. With our variety of combinations there is a strong chance of winning the championship," said the captain Jehan Mubarak, who is one of 11 international players in the squad. "It's all about chances and looking at our team card and the fact that we are an unknown combination in international Twenty20 cricket, we can be the underdog that strikes.
"There are no favourites in Twenty20 cricket. On paper we have good players and at the same time we may not be the strongest of the IPL teams who are well experienced in Twenty20 cricket."
Mubarak was happy to have former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene in his side. "Having Mahela in the side is a definite boost for us," he said. "He knows how to lift the confidence of the players and having a player with his experience is always helpful to any team. Twenty20 is a totally different ball game and a player in the calibre of Mahela is an asset in a championship of this nature."
The allrounder Farveez Maharoof and Tillakaratne Dilshan were members of the Delhi Daredevils side that played in the IPL tournament. Maharoof had the option of representing either Delhi or Wayamba and he opted for his home team.
"Dilshan will definitely give a few tips to his Delhi team-mates about our players but Maharoof has already given us some of theirs," Mubarak said. "It's not about worrying on individuals; we have done our homework accordingly and have practiced to suit different conditions. Playing in India in a big event will definitely add up that extra pressure on any player. Apart from a few players most of the Wayamba players are used to it. The spectator participation in India will be a contrast to what you experience in a domestic cricket in Sri Lanka.
"Our players know how to deal with a bigger crowd around. Our objective is totally different. There is a possibility of winning the first-ever Champions Twenty20 League. It's not unrealistic and we are confident. Playing in an aggressive and competitive tournament of this nature will definitely create pressure on our players who are taking part in their first ever international championship."
The players in the Wayamba squad have a good understanding of each other's talents, having played together in nearly three inter-provincial tournaments conducted by Sri Lanka Cricket. They have performed well in the three-day, one-day and Twenty20 games and have won the inter-provincial Twenty20 championships for two seasons.
Wayamba will play in Group D along with Delhi and Australian state side Victoria. They take on Dilshan's Delhi in their first match on October 11, and the game against Victoria follows two days later.
Wayamba: Jehan Mubarak (capt), Mahela Jayawardene, Ajantha Mendis, Rangana Herath, Farveez Maharoof, Kaushalya Lokuarachchi, Jeevantha Kulatunga, Michael Vandort, Mahela Udawatte, Ishara Amarasinghe, Isuru Udana, Thisara Perera, Sameera de Zoysa, Shalika Karunanayake, Chanaka Welagedara.