Fearless Asia Cup champions hungry for more glory - Sri Lanka team preview
Dasun Shanaka (c), Danushka Gunathilaka, Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis, Charith Asalanka, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Dhananjaya de Silva, Wanindu Hasaranga, Maheesh Theekshana, Jeffrey Vandersay, Chamika Karunaratne, Dushmantha Chameera (subject to fitness), Lahiru Kumara (subject to fitness), Dilshan Madushanka, Pramod Madushan.
Standby Players: Ashen Bandara, Praveen Jayawickrema, Dinesh Chandimal, Binura Fernando, Nuwanidu Fernando.
Best Finish at Tournament
After falling short on the final hurdle in 2012, Sri Lanka made amends at the very next edition and were crowned T20 World Champions for the first time in 2014.
Lasith Malinga's men topped their group with three wins from four games to setup a clash with West Indies in the semi-finals. In a repeat of the 2012 T20 World Cup final, Sri Lanka got the better of the Windies in a rain-truncated game in Dhaka.
In an all-Asia final, Sri Lanka bowled brilliantly to restrict India to 130 and chased it down easily with more than two overs to spare. It was a fitting farewell to Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena, both of whom bid farewell to T20I cricket hoisted on the shoulders of their team-mates and with the T20 World Cup trophy in hand.
Results in the last 10 games
(most recent first) W W W W W L W L L L
v Namibia (16 October), Kardinia Park, Geelong
v UAE (18 October), Kardinia Park, Geelong
v Netherlands (20 October), Kardinia Park, Geelong
v Namibia - 16 October
Sri Lanka will feature in the opening match of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022 against Namibia at Kardinia Park in Geelong. The Islanders are clear favourites to make it out of the group and will want to begin at full speed against Namibia, a team that could give them a run for their money.
The only encounter between the two teams was at the T20 World Cup last year and it ended being a one-sided affair in which Sri Lanka emerged victorious.
Wanindu Hasaranga - The rise of Wanindu Hasaranga has coincided with Sri Lanka's breaking out of their transition phase. The all-rounder has quickly become arguably their most important player in limited-overs cricket and more so in the shortest format.
The wily leg-spinner has had opposition batters dancing to his tunes since making his T20I debut in 2019. In Hasaranga, Sri Lanka found a genuine wicket-taking spinner that was missing in their ranks since the retirement of Muttiah Muralitharan and Rangana Herath. In 44 T20Is, the third-ranked T20I bowler in the world has 71 wickets at a stunning average of 14.74 while giving away just 6.72 runs an over.
Hasaranga can also change the game with the bat, as he showed against Pakistan in the final of the 2022 Asia Cup. There aren't many better all-rounders in the game, with the 25-year-old ranked fourth in the ICC Men's T20I all-rounders rankings.
Wanindu Hasaranga was the X-factor Sri Lanka were craving after the retirement of several stalwarts in the last decade. He is now starting to come into his own and could very well be the player that makes Sri Lanka the formidable force they once were.
The Asia Cup triumph was the light at the end of the tunnel for Sri Lanka and could prove to be the catalyst for their journey back to the top of world cricket. With momentum on their side, the T20 World Cup comes at the most opportune time for the Lions to prove that the Asia Cup wasn't just a one-off.
Like last year, Sri Lanka once again find themselves in unfamiliar land in the T20 World Cup – they will have to go through the trials and tribulations of Round 1 to make it to the Super 12. They will want to replicate their performances of last year where they stamped their authority to win three-from-three in Round 1.
Though they endured a difficult time in the Super 12, the experience of playing in the marquee event has already done a world of good to the youngsters who have now found their footing on the international stage.
Led by Dasun Shanaka, Sri Lanka have formed a solid core with Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis, Charith Asalanka, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Wanindu Hasaranga and Maheesh Theekshana all rising to the occasion in recent times.
They will be boosted with the return of Dushmantha Chameera, who at the time of the squad announcement was going to be available subject to fitness but featured in their first warm-up match against Zimbabwe. He will be flanked by the inexperienced but talented duo of Pramod Madushan and Dilshan Madushanka who gave a glimpse of their prowess in the Asia Cup.
Having tasted the success at Asia Cup, Sri Lanka will be hungry to cultivate the winning habit and the T20 World Cup gives them the perfect opportunity to do so.
THIS IS THE BIG TIME!
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