ICC World Twenty20 2010 April 28, 2010

Sri Lanka look to go one step further

Click here to hear Ian Chappell's take on Sri Lanka.

Overview

Sri Lanka have experimented with their limited-overs combination over the past year, but the core of the squad remains the same as the one that Kumar Sangakkara nearly took to glory in his maiden captaincy assignment at the 2009 World Twenty20.

Several promising allrounders have come along to back up the old guard, the most exciting of whom is Angelo Mathews, who has become a national regular in the shorter formats. Then there is the duo who impressed in the nearly forgotten ODI tri-series against India and Bangladesh early this year - offspinning allrounder Suraj Randiv, who Sri Lanka coach Trevor Bayliss picked as his side's best slow bowler in the tournament, and Thissara Perera, who showed his hitting skills and temperament during a stiff chase against India. The wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Chandimal also makes the squad on the basis of a strong showing in the domestic Twenty20 tournament, where he was the leading run-getter.

Only a handful of Sri Lankan players were regulars for their IPL sides, which means most of the squad will be well-rested going into the Caribbean competition. They are grouped with a tough New Zealand side and a Zimbabwe outfit whose recent tour of the West Indies makes them one of the better-prepared teams in the tournament.

Twenty20 pedigree

Sri Lanka were virtually unstoppable in England during the previous World Twenty20, sweeping all before them to reach the finals unbeaten, but have had a rough time since, losing four of their past five matches. Like in the final against Pakistan last year, their top-order buckled in a winner-take-all Super Eights match against Australia in 2007, which led to their early elimination. Overall, they have a solid Twenty20 record, with a winning percentage only behind Pakistan and South Africa among the Test nations.

Strengths and weaknesses

The side is littered with match-winners, both with bat and ball. Their top three of Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene and Sangakkara match the best in the world, and their bowling is full of unorthodox and dangerous operators, including Lasith Malinga, Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis. One worry is that the supporting players to this bunch are generally inexperienced and have yet to prove themselves in a pressure-cooker tournament like the World Twenty20. The other concern is that Sri Lanka's fielding standards don't match the benchmark set by the likes of Australia and South Africa.

Key men

Mahela Jayawardene has been confirmed as the opening partner to Tillakaratne Dilshan, who lit up the 2009 World Twenty20 with his inventive strokeplay. Dilshan is coming off a lukewarm spell with Delhi Daredevils, and captain Sangakkara didn't hit the heights in either the IPL or the domestic Twenty20 competition. That increases the responsibility on Jayawardene, who showed during the second half of the IPL that classical shot-making doesn't rule out scoring at Twenty20 pace.

Lasith Malinga was among the best fast bowlers on display in the IPL: the unconventional action, the ability to bowl yorkers at will and a mix of slow bouncers and slow full tosses unnerved batsmen and was instrumental in taking Mumbai Indians to the top of the league. He hasn't played for Sri Lanka this year, and will make his comeback at Providence, the scene of his finest moment - the unprecedented four-in-four against South Africa in the 2007 World Cup.

X-factor

In a Sri Lankan team where most of the big names are specialists, Angelo Mathews is multi-skilled, one of the reasons he was an automatic pick for Kolkata Knight Riders in every match this season, where Twenty20 specialists Brad Hodge struggled to hold down a place. He shot into prominence with an outstanding bit of fielding at last year's World Twenty20, since when he has added steel to Sri Lanka's lower middle order and capably filled in the fifth bowler's slot.

Vital stats

  • Sri Lanka still hold the record for highest total in a Twenty20 international, when they stacked up 260 on their way to pulverizing Kenya by 172 runs in 2007.
  • Ajantha Mendis' international career may be suffering from sophomore syndrome, but his Twenty20 figures still make for stunning reading: 25 wickets at the world-beating average of 9.76, economy-rate of 5.30, strike-rate of 11.0

Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • sachin_fan_avinash on April 30, 2010, 14:29 GMT

    Srilanka Have..... Dilshan,Jayasuriya... One of the best strikers of all time... Jaya n Sanga....... one of the best middle order batsman.... Malinga... the best Twenty20 Bowler.... Murli n Ajantha.... the best spin duo... What the hell they else need.... This is the best Team on Paper.. and they have all ingredients to win this Twenty20 world cup... they just have to play with their skills... I Just don't want IND vs SL match untill semis.... let c..

  • on April 30, 2010, 8:06 GMT

    they will make ourselves proud.....Good Luck Guys!

  • on April 30, 2010, 6:49 GMT

    thanks pranav desai for positive comment for sri lanka.....i am from sri lanka........we too love indians when they play with other country.. i hope sr lanka & india final lets c till ..............final

  • DwightR on April 29, 2010, 18:26 GMT

    @Dhushan- excellent point, historically SL always perform best when they are underdogs rather than favourites but they also perform best in tournaments rathers than series. i think SL cricket is at the stage where we have the best side ever available to us, as 'fezzan Niyas' said we have the best team on paper but they are out of form, if there is one thing we need is for our boys to step up in the tournament format like they usually do. Dilshan, Mahela, Sanga, Matthews, Sanath, Chandimal, Kapu, Kulu, Malinga, Murali, Mendis...the only person missing from this team is the great Vaas (for either chandimal or kapu) and you have the best all round SL squad i have ever seen..on paper at least

  • on April 29, 2010, 12:15 GMT

    I am Indian but I personally love the Sri lankan team, except when they play India. lol. They stand a good chance of making into the super 8's and it really depends on how the top 3 handle themselves. Sangga has been in and out of form for the last couple months. Dilshan has been in horrible t20 form, IPL and the practice match where he feel for a first ball duck. To me he was the biggest reason for their sucess. But lets c. The bowling is not a worry unless Mendis is attacked which I fell the expierenced batsmen will do. Good luck Sri Lanka

  • Dhushan on April 29, 2010, 10:37 GMT

    I personally did not expect the team to qualify from last years ICC T20 World Cup group stages after being grouped with Aus & WI because we had a new captain & a young team with a few players out of form. But I was surprised & glad at the way that we played as a team. Sri Lanka plays well when they are the underdogs. (World Cup 96) After reaching the finals last year people expect us to win this trophy. (World Cup 99) Don't get me wrong because I am 100% behind our national team but I have butterflies in my stomach about this tournament. I hope our players will prove me wrong. Most importantly though, I know that our team will make us proud to call ourselves SRI LANKAN! Good luck guys!

  • on April 29, 2010, 9:05 GMT

    One of the best sides on paper..but many are out of form!!

  • sachin_fan_avinash on April 30, 2010, 14:29 GMT

    Srilanka Have..... Dilshan,Jayasuriya... One of the best strikers of all time... Jaya n Sanga....... one of the best middle order batsman.... Malinga... the best Twenty20 Bowler.... Murli n Ajantha.... the best spin duo... What the hell they else need.... This is the best Team on Paper.. and they have all ingredients to win this Twenty20 world cup... they just have to play with their skills... I Just don't want IND vs SL match untill semis.... let c..

  • on April 30, 2010, 8:06 GMT

    they will make ourselves proud.....Good Luck Guys!

  • on April 30, 2010, 6:49 GMT

    thanks pranav desai for positive comment for sri lanka.....i am from sri lanka........we too love indians when they play with other country.. i hope sr lanka & india final lets c till ..............final

  • DwightR on April 29, 2010, 18:26 GMT

    @Dhushan- excellent point, historically SL always perform best when they are underdogs rather than favourites but they also perform best in tournaments rathers than series. i think SL cricket is at the stage where we have the best side ever available to us, as 'fezzan Niyas' said we have the best team on paper but they are out of form, if there is one thing we need is for our boys to step up in the tournament format like they usually do. Dilshan, Mahela, Sanga, Matthews, Sanath, Chandimal, Kapu, Kulu, Malinga, Murali, Mendis...the only person missing from this team is the great Vaas (for either chandimal or kapu) and you have the best all round SL squad i have ever seen..on paper at least

  • on April 29, 2010, 12:15 GMT

    I am Indian but I personally love the Sri lankan team, except when they play India. lol. They stand a good chance of making into the super 8's and it really depends on how the top 3 handle themselves. Sangga has been in and out of form for the last couple months. Dilshan has been in horrible t20 form, IPL and the practice match where he feel for a first ball duck. To me he was the biggest reason for their sucess. But lets c. The bowling is not a worry unless Mendis is attacked which I fell the expierenced batsmen will do. Good luck Sri Lanka

  • Dhushan on April 29, 2010, 10:37 GMT

    I personally did not expect the team to qualify from last years ICC T20 World Cup group stages after being grouped with Aus & WI because we had a new captain & a young team with a few players out of form. But I was surprised & glad at the way that we played as a team. Sri Lanka plays well when they are the underdogs. (World Cup 96) After reaching the finals last year people expect us to win this trophy. (World Cup 99) Don't get me wrong because I am 100% behind our national team but I have butterflies in my stomach about this tournament. I hope our players will prove me wrong. Most importantly though, I know that our team will make us proud to call ourselves SRI LANKAN! Good luck guys!

  • on April 29, 2010, 9:05 GMT

    One of the best sides on paper..but many are out of form!!

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • on April 29, 2010, 9:05 GMT

    One of the best sides on paper..but many are out of form!!

  • Dhushan on April 29, 2010, 10:37 GMT

    I personally did not expect the team to qualify from last years ICC T20 World Cup group stages after being grouped with Aus & WI because we had a new captain & a young team with a few players out of form. But I was surprised & glad at the way that we played as a team. Sri Lanka plays well when they are the underdogs. (World Cup 96) After reaching the finals last year people expect us to win this trophy. (World Cup 99) Don't get me wrong because I am 100% behind our national team but I have butterflies in my stomach about this tournament. I hope our players will prove me wrong. Most importantly though, I know that our team will make us proud to call ourselves SRI LANKAN! Good luck guys!

  • on April 29, 2010, 12:15 GMT

    I am Indian but I personally love the Sri lankan team, except when they play India. lol. They stand a good chance of making into the super 8's and it really depends on how the top 3 handle themselves. Sangga has been in and out of form for the last couple months. Dilshan has been in horrible t20 form, IPL and the practice match where he feel for a first ball duck. To me he was the biggest reason for their sucess. But lets c. The bowling is not a worry unless Mendis is attacked which I fell the expierenced batsmen will do. Good luck Sri Lanka

  • DwightR on April 29, 2010, 18:26 GMT

    @Dhushan- excellent point, historically SL always perform best when they are underdogs rather than favourites but they also perform best in tournaments rathers than series. i think SL cricket is at the stage where we have the best side ever available to us, as 'fezzan Niyas' said we have the best team on paper but they are out of form, if there is one thing we need is for our boys to step up in the tournament format like they usually do. Dilshan, Mahela, Sanga, Matthews, Sanath, Chandimal, Kapu, Kulu, Malinga, Murali, Mendis...the only person missing from this team is the great Vaas (for either chandimal or kapu) and you have the best all round SL squad i have ever seen..on paper at least

  • on April 30, 2010, 6:49 GMT

    thanks pranav desai for positive comment for sri lanka.....i am from sri lanka........we too love indians when they play with other country.. i hope sr lanka & india final lets c till ..............final

  • on April 30, 2010, 8:06 GMT

    they will make ourselves proud.....Good Luck Guys!

  • sachin_fan_avinash on April 30, 2010, 14:29 GMT

    Srilanka Have..... Dilshan,Jayasuriya... One of the best strikers of all time... Jaya n Sanga....... one of the best middle order batsman.... Malinga... the best Twenty20 Bowler.... Murli n Ajantha.... the best spin duo... What the hell they else need.... This is the best Team on Paper.. and they have all ingredients to win this Twenty20 world cup... they just have to play with their skills... I Just don't want IND vs SL match untill semis.... let c..