Sri Lanka’s Spin-Heavy Squad Confident for T20 World Cup Success

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) is gearing up with confidence for the T20 World Cup, backed by their spin-heavy strategy and a lineup of power-hitters ready to face any challenge.

SLC also feels that their team has a sufficient number of powerful players who are “capable of meeting any challenge.”

Sri Lanka’s Spin-Heavy Squad Confident for T20 World Cup Success

Although the current IPL is a veritable run feast, there is a prevalent belief that the USA and Caribbean may not be as batsman-friendly for the 2017 T20 World Cup. When selecting their 15-man team for the tournament, Sri Lanka’s selectors were, at least, operating under that working assumption.

Chief selector Upul Tharanga stated at a media briefing on Monday, “If you look at the conditions in America and the West Indies, most of it is pointing towards the wickets there being quite slow.”

“Dallas hosted the Major League competition using drop-in pitches. You can see that they are still a touch slow and uneven even though they are being carried down from Australia. Naturally, this could change, so it’s a little difficult to forecast.”

They have stocked their team with spin-bowling possibilities thanks to this line of reasoning. While Maheesh Theekshana and Wanindu Hasaranga will lead the way, all-around possibilities such as Dhananjaya de Silva, Kamindu Mendis, Charith Asalanka, and Dunith Wellalage are available, and Vijayakanth Viyaskanth is one of the traveling reserves.

Sri Lanka’s emphasis on spin has benefited Dhananjaya and Wellalage in particular.

The 32-year-old Dhananjaya has struggled to establish himself as a regular member of the T20 team due to his lack of power-hitting heritage; his standing in the batting order has also fluctuated. He has batted in all seven positions in the last four years, mostly in the middle order, and he has only participated in four of Sri Lanka’s nine Twenty20 Internationals this year. Wellalage has played in 21 ODIs and one Test for Sri Lanka, although he has not yet made his T20I debut.

Both have been included in Sri Lanka’s squad despite their lack of playing time, and Tharanga said that their inclusion was solidified by their versatility.

It is possible that we will occasionally use three spinners. In light of this, we chose Dunith—especially for his batting—because we occasionally had the option to deploy him instead of an all-round fast bowler.

“We appreciate Dhananjaya’s bowling. Furthermore, we believe that we can obtain power-hitting from other areas on the side. He was a better choice in terms of his overall contribution and the circumstances.”

Additionally, Tharanga disclosed that Viyaskanth, who has not yet received a cap, was chosen as a traveling reserve over players like Jeffrey Vandersay and Akila Dananjaya because he was better suited to the conditions. Viyaskanth had shown promise in the LPL in recent seasons as well as the ILT20 earlier this year.

We believed that Viyaskanth would do better in the West Indian climate due to his height and stronger arm motion. We also considered Viyaskanth’s replacement in the event of an injury, but Viyaskanth has more franchise cricket bowling experience than either Jeffrey Vandersay or Akila Dananjaya.”

With the IPL casting a shadow over the World Cup, there is some uncertainty about the tournament’s scoring dynamics. Given the extreme aggressiveness of the batting displayed in the IPL thus far, ground averages may no longer be a good predictor of scoring trends.

Also Read: Sri Lanka vs India 2014 T20 World Cup Final: Sangakkara’s Cool Innings Breaks Final Hoodoo

In a similar line, there were concerns raised about Dhananjaya’s selection over more daring choices like Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Kusal Janith Perera (traveling reserve). Nonetheless, the selectors were sure that the squad they had chosen had the strength to advance farther in the competition.

Sri Lanka’s Spin-Heavy Squad Confident for T20 World Cup Success

“Historically, average scores in the US and the West Indies have been around 160. But we won’t know how such wickets behave until we play on them. However, I think this is a team that can overcome any obstacle.”

Regarding Perera’s dismissal, Tharanga elaborated that it was due to his recent slump in performance. He also mentioned that Bhanuka was only kept in reserve because the team already had plenty of powerful players.

“I believe we have the required hitting power in our lineup with the 15 players we have chosen. Kusal Mendis, Pathum Nissanka, Kamindu Mendis, Charith [Asalanka], Wanindu, and Dasun Shanaka are the first four players. We therefore believe that we can use those players to cover the power aspect of the game.”

The selectors had not included Janith Liyanage in their initial 25-man shortlist of possible players for their final squad. However, given his outstanding performance in one-day internationals (ODIs), where he has amassed three fifties and a century in six innings since making his debut in March of this year, they were encouraged to reevaluate his role in the shortest format.

Consequently, Liyanage has been selected as one of four traveling reserves even though he last participated in his three T20Is back in February 2022.

“We felt we could proceed with those picks, thus he wasn’t included in the initial 25-man list. But Janith played really well in the games after that choice, according to Tharanga. “This meant that some of the seniors and coaches in the side asked again if it was possible to take Janith for the tournament.”

Before suffering a hamstring ailment that kept him out of action for six games, Matheesha Pathirana had shown promise in his second IPL season. The slinger should be ready for the competition to begin, according to Tharanga, but a precise return date won’t be known until after the final medical report is received.

Along with fellow slinger Nuwan Thushara, Dilshan Madushanka, Dushmantha Chameera, and traveling reserve Asitha Fernando, he is one of five seamen that Sri Lanka will be sending to the US.

According to Tharanga, there is enough in those to pose a threat to opposing batters throughout the whole game. “We have individuals who can bowl in the latter moments, but our main goal should be to take wickets during the powerplay. Thus, we have Asitha as a traveling reserve and Madushanka as our primary option.

“Thoughhara, Pathirana, can bowl in the final overs if we take them. But we chose Asitha [as a reserve over Binura Fernando] because we wanted someone who could step in if we needed a wicket-taking option with the new ball.”

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