Friday, December 9, 2022

Sri Lanka enter the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup with renewed confidence

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Fresh from their victory in the Asia Cup, Sri Lanka enter the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 with renewed confidence. 

The Lions reached the Super 12 for the second consecutive edition in 2021 and will be hoping to repeat their heroics from 2014, when Dinesh Chandimal skippered them to glory. 

Sri Lanka are without Chandimal, who is on their stand-by list on this occasion, with Dasun Shanaka captaining his side for the second time at a T20 World Cup. 

Kusal Mendis and Danushka Gunathilaka are two of the five players to have been included in the squad having missed out last time out in the UAE and Oman. 

2022 Prospects 

It has been a year of two halves for Sri Lanka, who have tasted defeat in their three bilateral T20I series but came alive when the tournament pressure was on. 

Sri Lanka suffered two series defeats against Australia, 4-1 down under and 2-1 on home soil, either side of suffering a 3-0 whitewash in India.

In the Asia Cup, Sri Lanka recovered from defeat to Afghanistan to go undefeated from that point onwards, with three dramatic wins in a row. 

The final was more routine as the Lions defeated Pakistan by 23 runs to claim their first T20 Asia Cup and stand them in good stead ahead of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022. 

T20 World Cup history 

Sri Lanka have found themselves top of the pile once at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, when Bangladesh hosted in 2014, but are leading the way in plenty of key stats too.

The Lions tasted victory in the fifth edition of the tournament, defeating inaugural champions India by six wickets in the final.

They had twice experienced defeat in the showpiece before that, in 2009 and when they last hosted in 2012, with a semi-final appearance sandwiched between them. 

Across the seven tournaments, Mahela Jayawardene leads the way for most runs (1016), becoming the only Sri Lankan to score a century in an ICC Men’s T20 World Cup along the way.

His runs have helped Sri Lanka to the highest win percentage of any team who has played a minimum of five matches, with a success rate of 63.95%. 

Despite not reaching the knockout stages, 2021 was a bumper tournament for Sri Lanka as Wanindu Hasaranga topped the wickets, taking 16 – the most in a single tournament.

Charith Asalanka scored 231 runs at an average of 46.20 to sit fifth in the charts, with both he and Hasaranga making The Upstox Most Valuable Team of the Tournament.

Best batters 

Hasaranga could easily be named among Sri Lanka’s best batters and bowlers, with the right-hander ranked fourth among all-rounders in the MRF Tyres ICC Men’s Rankings.

Pathum Nissanka is also one to watch. Sitting eighth in the batters’ charts, he scored 55 not out against Pakistan in the Super 4 stage of the Asia Cup, his second consecutive T20I fifty having also made one against India. 

Nissanka will be searching for consistency, having posted scores over 70 once in each of the India and Australia away series without moving past a half-century again in either. 

In Shanaka, Sri Lanka have a captain leading by example, his lower-order hitting proving vital during his side’s Asia Cup success. 

Best bowlers 

Hasaranga is now Sri Lanka’s not-so-secret weapon. He announced himself on the world stage in the 2021 edition, taking a hat-trick against South Africa, and has become a reliable match-winner.

The leg spinner is joined in the MRF Tyres ICC Men’s Rankings for T20I Bowlers by Maheesh Theekshana, who sits two spots below him in eighth.

Theekshana took eight wickets during the first-round stage of last year’s tournament, including returning career-best figures of three for 17 against Ireland in only his fifth match for the Lions. 

Fixtures 

Sri Lanka will open the 2022 tournament when they take on Namibia on 16 October to kick off Group A. 

They then face last year’s joint hosts, the United Arab Emirates, before concluding their first-round fixtures against the Netherlands on 20 October with all three games at Geelong’s Kardinia Park. 

Group A, First round  

Sri Lanka v Namibia, October 16 – Geelong (3pm local time) 
Sri Lanka v United Arab Emirates, October 18 – Geelong (7pm local time) 
Sri Lanka v Netherlands, October 20 – Geelong (3pm local time) 

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