#SLvAFG: Defending champions Sri Lanka face Afghanistan in World T20 campaign opener

Photo: Twitter (@ICC)

#SLvAFG: Defending champions Sri Lanka face Afghanistan in World T20 campaign opener

News Agencies

Lost in transition, defending champions Sri Lanka will look to come out of the rut and start well against a spirited Afghanistan in their World Twenty20 Super 10 opener at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Thursday, 17 March.

The defending champions, who were also runners-up in 2009 and 2012, have managed to win only four of their 14 matches since they beat India to win the 2014 edition in Mirpur. They are in the middle of a transition phase after Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene's exit.

The build-up to the tournament was also forgettable with series defeats in New Zealand and India followed by an early ouster in Asia Cup.

To add to the misery, their 2014 WT20 winning skipper Lasith Malinga has stepped down as leader of the team, following concern over his slow recovery from a knee injury.

Now Test and ODI skipper Angelo Mathews' task is cutout.

Having joined the squad yesterday, Malinga is a doubtful starter for the match. His presence in the team would impact the team a lot.

History backs them since Sri Lanka have done well in the big tournaments and have been one of the most consistent sides in the most unpredictable format.

On spin friendly Indian conditions, Sri Lanka will sorely miss an experienced spinner and will have to depend on the veteran leftarm orthodox Rangana Herath.

With bowling their weak link, the onus would be on the batsmen to put big scores and they would hope that their star batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan's batting woes are over.

Dilshan, who will turn 40 in October, could not open his account in the two warm ups against New Zealand and against Pakistan he had a first-ball duck.

In such a scenario, Dinesh Chandimal and no 3 Lahiru Thirimanne will be their batting mainstay while skipper Mathews would look to give a late push.

Out of all the teams in Afghanistan's group at the World T20, Sri Lanka are probably the one that they can fancy to upset. They beat Zimbabwe to qualify for the tournament proper and they have it in them to pull off upsets.

-PTI

News Agencies