Dushmantha Chameera and Wanindu Hasaranga are likely to feature for Sri Lanka in tonight's T20 World Cup warm-up match against Bangladesh, Dinesh Chandimal has revealed, while confirming that Avishka Fernando is also likely to remain at No. 4 - a position he was utilised in to great effect in the recent T20s against Oman.
Chameera and Hasaranga were part of the Royal Challengers Bangalore team whose IPL season ended on Monday with a loss to Kolkata Knight Riders in the Eliminator in Sharjah. The franchise, however, released the pair from their bio-bubble before that match so they could join their Sri Lanka team-mates ahead of the World Cup warm-ups.
"Wanindu and Dushmantha joined up with the team yesterday and will take part in training later today, so I think both will play in the game against Bangladesh," Chandimal said, speaking on the eve of the game during a media conference unveiling the team's new sponsor.
The game against Bangladesh, even if it is a warm-up, is likely to be a far sterner test than the one presented by Oman. That said, in both those T20 games, Sri Lanka found themselves in a spot of bother early on when batting, before being rescued by their middle and lower order.
In the first game, having slipped to 51 for 4 in the 11th over, Sri Lanka got to a match-winning total of 162 thanks to an unbeaten 83 from Fernando, while in the second, chasing a target of 160, Sri Lanka had fallen to 89 for 5 in the 11th over before Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Chamika Karunaratne steered them home. Fernando's middle-order role proved crucial in that game too, his 33 off 18 the only other highlight in the innings.
So it seems that Sri Lanka now see Fernando as a consistent middle-order option despite his having burst on the scene as an attacking opening batter during the 2019 World Cup.
"Definitely having Avishka play at number four is something we have been working [on], not just in the Oman games, but in the intra-squad matches we played as well before that," Chandimal said. "And he's played well in that role. The main thing is that we have good plans, and if on the day we can execute those plans I think we can go far in this tournament."
On his own role in the side, Chandimal, who just a few months ago had looked a long way off Sri Lanka's white-ball squads - let alone being selected for the T20 World Cup - says he is happy to play wherever the team needs him. However, in the games against Oman both he and Pathum Nissanka opened the innings, and Chandimal says that's where he sees his role going forward.
"It's up to the selectors and the coaches. My plan is to bat as an opener, and keep wickets as well. But if the team needs I can bat anywhere else in the order, and field in the outfield as well."
Looking ahead to the start of the T20 World Cup's first round, Chandimal says Sri Lanka will not be taking their Group A opponents - Ireland, Namibia and Netherlands - lightly, with all due diligence being given to their preparations.
"As a team we have done a lot of analysis on the teams that we're going to face in the qualifiers. Where their batsman like to play, what their bowlers are like, what their strengths are. The one thing is that, on the day, we need to execute the plans on the day. But as for our team, we're in a good place mentally, and are hopeful of doing well in the tournament."
Sri Lanka face Bangladesh tonight in a warm-up game, before taking on Papua New Guinea in their second warm-up match on October 14. Sri Lanka will begin their T20 World Cup campaign in the first round against Namibia on October 18.
Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva
Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka
ICC Men's T20 World Cup