Spinners key to Sri Lanka's success - Sangakkara
Having narrowly missed out on winning a second world title for Sri Lanka in England last year, Kumar Sangakkara's team left for the Caribbean with the hope of winning the trophy in the third World Twenty20.
"This team has the potential to go all the way in the tournament," Sangakkara said prior to the team's departure on Saturday. "Even last year we had a very similar team with a couple of new faces as in this one."
Sri Lanka are in Group B with New Zealand whom Sangakkara described as 'a very dangerous team as we have experienced in the T20 format before' and Zimbabwe 'who have proved giant killers when they beat West Indies in T20s and ODI'. "They are not teams you can take lightly in T20 cricket. We know how dangerous this format of the game is."
Sangakkara said Sri Lanka's spinners are likely to be one of their strengths. "The last time we went to the West Indies most of the wickets were spin-friendly. In T20 cricket generally the spinners bring a lot to the game. They have become very crucial match winners," Sangakkara said. "They can be used to take wickets, to control games, change the pace of the game and rush through the overs when the opposition is in trouble. Especially with the quality spinners we have we'll be able to make an impact."
In their line up Sri Lanka have a coterie of spinners led by the Muttiah Muralitharan supported by Ajantha Mendis, Suraj Randiv, Sanath Jayasuriya and part-timer Tillakaratne Dilshan.
The Sri Lankan batting line-up will see Dilshan having a new partner with former captain Mahela Jayawardene joining him to open the innings. With 439 runs (strike rate of 147.31) from 13 matches in the IPL tournament for Kings Punjab XI, Jayawardene once again showed that he can contribute a lot towards the team when he is sent in as an opener.
"Mahela has been very good for us in the middle-order but this year in particular and most of the latter part of last year his mental conditioning has been more towards trying to bat out all the way," Sangakkara said. "We have seen that in the times he's opened in one-day cricket and provincial tournaments. Sometimes it is one way of getting the best out of him putting him at the top of the order. Right now that seems the most realistic option to have him at the top with Dilshan and for everyone to bat around them."
Explaining the role Jayasuriya, the oldest member of the tournament at 40 will play in the team, Sangakkara said: "I think to play him as an all-rounder depends on the tracks we get. If there is turn and slowness on the tracks he will have a great chance of playing. If we decide to change the opening combination at some point he can get back to his old position. It depends on the wickets, the opposition and finally on performance."
Sri Lanka play a warm-up T20 match against South Africa on April 28 at Barbados before taking on New Zealand in the tournament lung-opener on April 30 at Providence, Guyana.