World T20 2014 March 15, 2014

Chandimal upbeat about Sri Lanka's prospects


Top-ranked in the format for 17 months, exultant and exalted after the Asia Cup win, all after six loss-less weeks in Bangladesh - if World Twenty20 has a favourite, it must be the Sri Lanka team. There is the small matter of final-phobia, seemingly induced by pressure, but captain Dinesh Chandimal is not a man to back away from a challenge, even when he is outmatched. As the team prepares to leave for Bangladesh, he embraced the hopes that have been heaped high upon them, instead of downplaying Sri Lanka's prospects.

"There's a lot of expectation among the fans that we will win the tournament as well, and even within the team, there is a belief that we can win this," Chandimal said. "We played in Bangladesh for two and a half months, so we have some experience on how the wicket is behaving there and also when the dew factor comes into play. Most of the players in the World Twenty20 squad played in the Bangladesh tour, so that's a big advantage.

"It's a great opportunity, but we can't take it for granted. We will have to put in a lot of effort, and take it from game to game - first working towards the semi-final. We have some things up our sleeve. We have a game plan for each team. Everyone is set for the short format, and we're looking forward to that."

Sri Lanka have England, South Africa and New Zealand in their group, in addition to a yet-to-be-determined qualifier, and though Chandimal acknowledged the fickle nature of Twenty20 cricket, he felt his team were well-placed for the group stage.

"There's a big advantage in our group, because out of the four teams, three aren't very familiar with subcontinent conditions. But we don't take any team lightly. In Twenty20, a match can turn in one or two overs. But we have plans for each team, and we'll use that."

Perhaps the most obvious chink in Sri Lanka's game, has been Chandimal's own Twenty20 form. He averages 13.36 in the format - worse in the past 12 months. Chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya suggested team management would back Chandimal to the hilt in the tournament, but Chandimal himself did not warm to the notion of moving to a preferred spot up the order to improve his output.

"I've been a little uncomfortable in the middle, but I've been practicing hard," he said. "The question is not whether I can play better at No. 3, it's what will be better for the team. If I can come in and perform, then I will bat in that position. But if there is someone better suited to that position, he will go in. We are looking at what the team needs to do and how the team can win. That's how we're approaching it."

Chandimal did not speak of Sri Lanka's recent history of botched finals, but Jayasuriya - who had been similarly upbeat about the team's World Twenty20 chances - said Sri Lanka's jinx had now been lifted.

"Since 2007 we have done well in ICC events, but unfortunately we faltered in the final. But I think during the Asia Cup we came out of that barrier. We won chasing 260. That gave us confidence. We put undue pressure on ourselves when we scores of 260 or so, but I think now the players are experienced enough to adapt to such situations. We didn't win the finals, but the good thing is that we have reached those finals."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sam on March 17, 2014, 4:28 GMT

    Game plan to win T20 WC: Step 1: Drop Chandimal and add Thirimanne or Chathuranga in his place Step 2: Give the captaincy to Mathews. Repeat this each game and you'll win the cup for sure.

  • Jaminda on March 17, 2014, 2:13 GMT

    Chandimal maybe upbeat but his poor performance has ruined T20 cricket. He needs to be replaced as captain. We will definitely lose the number 1 position in this WC. This chap will definitely fail.

  • Josh on March 16, 2014, 19:26 GMT

    Give it a break guys. Sri Lanka is ranked #1 in t20 over the last 17 months under the captaincy of Chandimal.

  • Android on March 16, 2014, 6:40 GMT

    Mahela,Kushal, Chandi,Sanga,Mathewes,Thisara,Seekuge,Kula,Sachi,Mali, Mendis

  • rob on March 16, 2014, 6:28 GMT

    Dilshan looked like a foal on skates for much of the BBL. What's wrong with him? He's normally way better than that. .. Malinga was there too, but he played well. Mr. reliable at the death with those yorkers. He's dropped pace alarmingly but still has the accuracy so he gets away with it. .. just saying.

  • Dummy4 on March 16, 2014, 4:12 GMT

    Obviously SL have potential to lift the t20 world cup and chandimal better you perform rather than opening your mouth. chandi, good players perform at any position for them stage is important.

  • Nuwan on March 16, 2014, 3:22 GMT

    BD please give us batting paradises through out the tournament. thanks

  • Dummy4 on March 16, 2014, 0:56 GMT

    Yes.. Sri Lanka have a good chance to lift the trophy this time. The team must focus on the possibilities their own and hold the confidence fully. They have Better squad with world class legends like Mahela and Sangakkara- top class youngsters like Chandimala, Thirimanne. SL bowling department is so strong with amazing Malinga and Ajantha . They have a good opportunity this time. All the Best.

  • Dummy4 on March 15, 2014, 21:45 GMT

    As a BD supporter I believe SL is a underrated team always. They have great potential to win this T-20. They are obviously better team playing in the condition of Bangladesh. Dilshan, Sangakara, Mathews, Malinga, Kusal...its an amazing team! they also have young stars . Good luck Lions!

  • ESPN on March 15, 2014, 19:59 GMT

    Guys relax. Lets wait and watch... This is not another series between two countries. This is all important ICC T20 World Cup...don't try to demotivate our players. We are not in a position to change the captain in this last moment. Let them play as it is. And please guys keep your faith on our boys.... I'm sure they're not going to disappoint us this time....

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