sri lanka out to maintain t20 record

Published : 8:50 am  April 4, 2017 | No comments so far |  | 


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By Shehan Daniel   
In the midst of an indifferent run of form in the longer versions of the game, T20 will provide Sri Lanka a chance to create some separation from a Bangladesh team that has challenged and one-upped them in the last month.   

A formidable record against the visitors proved nothing but history, as Bangladesh shared both the Test and One Day series, exemplifying the great strides they have made under Sri Lankan coach Chandika Hathurusinghe.   

A first ever Test loss to the Bangladeshis came as a rude shock — though the result was well-earned through sheer application by the visitors — and a 90-run defeat in the first ODI that followed meant a first-ever series defeat in that format was not unthinkable.   
But after rain washed out the second ODI, Sri Lanka were able to put in a clinical performance to win the deciding match, share the series and save face from further embarrassment.   

Now with just the two-match T20 series left, Sri Lanka will hope that their recent success in that format which has seen them win series in South Africa and Australia – both by a 2-1 margin – will be a boon heading into the first match at the R. Premadasa Stadium today.   
Stand-in captain Upul Tharanga yesterday said he believed the T20 team is in good shape, and that an experienced, balanced side has given them an air of confidence ahead of today’s match.  

“(We’re) More confident. We did well in the last two series. We beat South Africa in South Africa and Australia in Australia. They were top teams at the moment in the T20 format. We are in good shape in the T20s. We have a lot more experience – with players like Lasith (Malinga) coming back, and (Nuwan) Kulasekara, Thisara (Perera) and (Chamara) Kapugedara there. We have a very good, balanced side,” Tharanga said.   

“Both teams want to win this series because the other two series were drawn. We want to win both games, because we’ve done well in the recent past with T20s.”   

While the final team was yet to be decided, Tharanga said Sri Lanka had a lot of explosive options open to them.   

“Up front we have players like Danushka (Gunathilake), (Dilshan) Munaweera, Kusal (Perera) and in the middle part we have Seekku (Seekkuge Prasanna), Kapugedara and we’ve got firepower there. We have to bring our ‘A’ game,” he said.   

With a number of openers to choose from, Tharanga said a final call will be made based on which players bring the best balance to the team.   

“We really haven’t decided (on the openers) and we have to take the opposition’s plans into account. They have the offspinner, and he often starts the bowling – as we saw in the ODIs. So that can affect the combination, and we might also want a right-hand/left-hand combination. Yes, me, Danushka, Kusal and Munaweera are all opening batsmen. We need to talk together and figure out the balance of our team before deciding on the opening combination. After training is when we will have that conversation,” Tharanga added.

Perera, who missed the ODI series due to injury, is fit and available, though there was no confirmation he would be in the team.   
“Kusal is completely healed now. This morning he had a fitness Test, and he passed it. Not sure if he will play yet, but he’s 100% fit and available. We haven’t chosen the final XI,” Tharanga said.   

Tharanga also added that Kusal Mendis’ omission from the squad was to allow the rising star to focus on the longer versions of the game, and keep him sharp for the upcoming Champions Trophy.   

“He’s playing Tests and ODIs really well. In T20s though he hasn’t been that successful. The Champions Trophy is coming, and hopefully he’ll be in a good mental state for that. If we give him a break here, he can concentrate on the longer formats, and we can get more out of him there,” Tharanga said.   

Sri Lanka lost the last T20 they played against Bangladesh in last year’s Asia Cup tournament – the only defeat to the Bangladeshis in the format.