The champions trophy begins it’s long overdue end on the 6th June with India taking on the proteas. It will be interesting to see how the transitioning lankan team tackles the tournament .Taking into consideration eight of the 15 man squad have been involved in the IPL for close to two months .This will be a ICC tournament in about six years sri lanka will be least prepared for mentally ,physically and technically. If we go by IPL form sri lankan fan’s should not have high hopes for the team.
Dilshan has only played 5 ipl matches for a grand total of 76 runs. Kusal janith only made one appearance. Sangakkara who was relegated to co-captain by the end has only played 9 matches with the highest score of 28.Mahela jayawardena played most of the matches but made very little contribution with the bat.Daredevils ending at the bottom of the table which has taken the shine off his captaincy credentials. Jeewan mendis played 4 matches with no contribution to his team. Angelo Matthews also had a poor tournament with the bat and the pune warriors ended just above the Daredevils.Matthews also had his struggles as the captain of his ipl team. Sacthithra Senayake played well in conditions that suited his bowling. Only player to come out of the IPL with their reputation intact is thisara perera who played a important part in sunrises success. Lasith Malinga has been steady for the Mumbai Indians as to his usual devastating form.
Although the above players have had a poor ipl it is also important to remember that this was a domestic tournament with very little stakes for the lankan players except for the monetary benefits. Another thing the failure of the players have highlighted is that none of them are capable of winning a match by themselves. Sri lankas success in the last few years have been down to everyone doing what is expected of them rather than individual brilliance. A fact many people usually overlook.
Looking forward to the Champions trophy the important thing for the team will be how quickly they adapt to the conditions in Cardiff and the kia ovel. Sri lanka are also in a tough group with England, New Zealand and Australia who will be comfortable with the conditions. New Zealand are currently touring England and will be accustomed to the conditions by the time they play Sri lanka. England rarely loose in conditions which are made for their seam bowlers. Australia will also feel confident with the pitch conditions.
The good news for Sri lanka is the bowling unit looks quite strong with Malinga,Kulasekara ,Thisara and Matthews all definite starters who are capable of extracting some help from the pitch conditions. Both New Zealand and Australia have batting line ups that are a bit unsettled and if kula can get the ball to move around both new zealand and australia have the tendency to fall apart.Sri lanka also have batting problems with the Big three hopelessly out of form it will most likely fall on Chandimal and Thrimanne to make the bulk of the runs.While the lower middle order might also have to step up with the bat.
In a long time Sri lanka go into a ICC tournament with the odds stacked heavily against them .Maybe the underdog tag is exactly what the team needs to win a major tournament. Many people heavily favor England and South Africa and the spotlight will be firmly on those two teams. If Angelo Matthews guides the team into the semi final under the current circumstances it will be a major accomplishment. And anything can happen from the semi final stage.
My starting XI – Jayawardena,Dilshan,Sanga,Chandimal,Thirimanne,Kusal Janith,Matthews,Thisara,Kula,Herath,Malinga