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Prasanna Jayawardene backs Sri Lanka for World Twenty20 title

Dubai: Prasanna Jayawardene believes Sri Lanka can use the momentum gained from their Asia Cup win to mount a serious challenge for the World Twenty20 title in Bangladesh.

The Sri Lankans’ Test wicketkeeper will be a keen spectator as Dinesh Chandimal’s side bid to go one better than their 2012 runners-up spot on home soil over the next three weeks.

The island nation had earned a reputation for struggling in the biggest matches after losing four successive major finals — in the 50-over World Cups of 2007 and 2011 and the T20 tournaments of 2009 and 2012 — but they put that behind them by beating Pakistan by five wickets in the Asia Cup final on March 8.

And Jayawardene, who will represent the MCC at the Emirates Airline Twenty20 at The Sevens in Dubai on Friday, said: “I think that [losing in finals] has finished now that we won the Asia Cup, so I think we’re going to do well.

“All the players wanted to do that. Before we showed everybody we were good enough to come to the final and at the same time unlucky not to get the cup — this time we did that. We have good players with good mentality to do well in the finals of the future. It’s a very big advantage that we won the Asia Cup.

“Our youngsters are doing well and our seniors also, so we have a good side at the moment. I’m sure we’ll do big things in this tournament.”

The World Twenty20 will be the last international appearances in the shortest format of the game for legendary batsmen Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene after both announced this week they would be standing down.

Prasanna said of the pair: “They have been huge for Sri Lanka, they are the main characters in the Sri Lankan side. I think they will want to finish their careers well and will do well in this tournament.

“Kumar is a brilliant keeper and he always praised me. He did well for Sri Lanka and I want to carry on and support the team.”