Transitional Sri Lanka rely on Chameera's pace

The defending champions are out of form and looking out of sorts ahead of the World T20

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra
Dushmantha Chameera: exciting with his pace and variations  •  AFP

Dushmantha Chameera: exciting with his pace and variations  •  AFP

Sri Lanka have always done well in multi-nation tournaments, but this time they are unlikely to defend their World T20 title since the players who helped them become a great team have now retired. That's what happens when transition occurs by default and not design. Sri Lanka struggled in the Asia Cup and are expected to struggle in the World T20.
While there aren't too many factors in Sri Lanka's favour, they may be helped by the fact that they are the only subcontinental team in their group. Their knowledge of playing in these conditions, along with decent bowling options at the start and end of innings, should help them. Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara are likely to keep things tight, and then there's Dushmantha Chameera for the death overs. Unfortunately, that's where the positives end.
Their biggest problem in the batting order is having an ageing opener in Tillakaratne Dilshan, who revolutionised T20 batting with his Dilscoop and ultra-aggressive style of play from the first ball. But of late, he has been struggling. His bat face is closed at the top of his backlift, so it comes down at an angle and forces him to play across the line, making him susceptible to balls that dart back in sharply. And while earlier he would punish anything pitched slightly wide, now bowlers can get away by bowling an outside-off line to him.
Sri Lanka's batting revolves around Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews, but a two-man batting unit seldom wins you a tournament.
Their bowling also has no teeth in the middle overs.
Two types of bowlers succeed in T20: ones who can produce wicket-taking deliveries, and ones who can bowl four really tight overs most days.
While Chameera can be expensive, he has the pace to induce mistakes and take wickets. In addition to the speed, he has also shown phenomenal game awareness in his choice of deliveries. He has added to his repertoire the legcutter variation of the slower delivery that not only goes away from the right-hand batsman but also bounces more than expected. Since most batsmen target the midwicket region in the death overs, he maintains a slightly outside-off line for his slower deliveries, and the spin takes the ball further away. But the ability to bowl different variations is futile unless you know when to bowl them, and Chameera has shown maturity in using his variations. Batsmen playing him for the first time will struggle to line him up. Unfortunately, Chameera's emergence has coincided with a dip in Malinga's career. Both of them bowling in tandem at their peak would have made things a lot tougher for batsmen.

Aakash Chopra is the author of three books, the latest of which is The Insider: Decoding the craft of cricket. @cricketaakash