The pitch at Hambantota likely to be difficult – Arnold

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Russel Arnold responds to questions from fans in his weekly column
September 15, 2012

Mahinda Rajapaksa Stadium
The conditions at the recently-built stadium in Hambantota have not always favoured batsmen. © AFP

What kind of wicket are you expecting at Hambantota for Sri Lanka’s two group matches there in the ICC World Twenty20? What do you think teams’ game plans should be at that venue and what should they be wary of?Jayant Sharma

The wicket at Hambantota has been very unpredictable and that’s because it’s still new. Although the stadium is over one-and-a-half years old, not many games have been played at this venue (not even first-class games). The more you play, the more predictable a pitch generally becomes. Therefore, I expect a difficult pitch. Sri Lanka needs to be ready for a fight and not aim too high. They must first make sure they put a decent score on the board. Looking for too big a score might mean more risks are taken, and that might not be wise in Hambantota. I feel that once Sri Lanka get through the first game against Zimbabwe, they will go well thereafter. That is a game which Sri Lanka needs to make sure that there are no slip-ups in, and they need to be very smart about every aspect of their game.

Who do you think are favourites to win the ICC WT20 2012?Hussain Walid

It’s so tough to call, as there are many teams that are even. Due to the short nature of T20 cricket, there is always very little time to recover if things do not go according to plan. Impact players can blow you away too. South Africa do look very good and the West Indies as well. You also cannot discount New Zealand, but one will have to go with the three main sub-continent teams due to the conditions. There is no clear front-runner for me. But, if I was to pick one team at this stage, I will have to go with the heart, as well as home advantage, and pick Sri Lanka.

If Mahela Jayawardene gives up the captaincy, who should lead Sri Lanka?Mithu

Angelo Mathews has been groomed, so I don’t think we need to look any further than that. I however honestly feel that Mahela should continue for a while longer.

What do you think of Sri Lanka’s chances in the Test series in Australia at the end of the year?Tevin Liyanage

It will be a testing tour. Sri Lanka will have to adjust to the extra bounce in Australia and try to stay in the game come the fourth and fifth day – that’s when the spinners could become useful. For this to happen, Sri Lanka needs to bat well and deliver in both innings with the bat. Sri Lanka needs to be consistent and keep putting 300-325 on the board. Picking wickets also will not be easy, as the lengths we need to bowl at in Australia are slightly different and we will need to use the bounce effectively. But that’s where we struggle; we don’t have tall fast bowlers who bowl with their wrists behind the ball. Sri Lanka will need to be well oiled in both departments. There is hope though because the Aussies have not been that great of late. If Sri Lanka can get ahead, there will be a definite opportunity to put pressure on the Aussies. The win in Durban against South Africa last year should give our players confidence and belief that they can do it – I am looking forward to this battle. This is a massive tour for the big names in Sri Lankan cricket as well. Therefore, it is exciting and definitely a tour to look forward to.

Who are the players to watch out for from the Sri Lankan team in the ICC World Twenty20 2012?V Kaluperuma

Angelo Mathews, Ajantha Mendis and Nuwan Kulasekara. If they perform well, I believe that Sri Lanka can do well in the tournament. I’m also keeping a close eye on Dilshan Munaweera.

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© Island Cricket

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