Dubai: Sri Lanka have strengthened their chance to win the oncoming International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty20 2014 set to commence in Bangladesh from March 16 after emerging as the new Asia Cup champions.
They not only recorded an impressive five-wicket win over formidable Pakistan but also broke the jinx of losing in finals of major tournaments.
Sri Lanka finished runners-up in the 50-over World Cups in 2007 and 2011 and in the World Twenty20 in 2009 and 2012. They were also the runners-up in the 2010 edition of the Asia Cup.
The fact that the World Twenty20 is also being held in Bangladesh where they won the Asia Cup further boosts their chances to emerge as the champions.
Sri Lanka have also been producing outstanding performances in Twenty20 cricket as they are the No 1 side in the short form of the game, with 129 points on the team rankings list. They are ahead of teams like India and South Africa with 123 points and Pakistan with 121 points, while the World Twenty20 champions West Indies have 111 points and are in fifth position.
“We wanted to break the barrier between us and the finals,” said Angelo Mathews after lifting the Asia Cup. “Big victory not only for me, but for the whole team. Haven’t won a major tournament for a while.”
Though it will be Dinesh Chandimal who will be leading Sri Lanka in the World Twenty20 Cup, all the stars that sparkled in the Asia Cup are part of the squad. The form of Sri Lankan opening batsman Lahiru Thirimanne, who hit 101 in the final and was judged player of the series, is a big boost for the team in the World Twenty20 Cup.
Similarly, their deadly pacer Lasith Malinga, who won the man of the match award with a spell of five for 56 in the Asia Cup final, is also raring to go.
“I just tried to bowl good line and length and it worked for me and the team,” he said. “The last few games I’ve done well against Pakistan and I’m looking forward to picking more wickets in the future.”
Sri Lanka will have a formidable batting line-up in the World Twenty20 with Tillakaratne Dilshan, who is eighth in the ICC batting rankings, and Mahela Jayawardene, who is ninth and also played a pivotal role in Saturday’s final win.
Chandimal is also delighted to have many former captains in the squad such as Dilshan, Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Mathews. “There’s a lot of experience in this team,” he said. “We have many captains so there are a lot of good ideas. I really enjoy that as a captain. They always give me good ideas. That helps me as a young captain. They work very hard in the training. I am learning every day from them. As a youngster, it is a great opportunity as a captain.”
Sri Lanka squad: Dinesh Chandimal (captain), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Rangana Herath, Mahela Jayawardene, Nuwan Kulasekara, Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Ajantha Mendis, Kusal Perera, Thisara Perera, Seekkuge Prasanna, Kumar Sangakkara, Sachithra Senanayake, Lahiru Thirimanne