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An underprepared Sri Lanka make last-minute changes to boost World T20 ambitions

Mathews, Mallinga, Sri Lanka, Wolrd T20
It’s never a good sign when your captain decides to call it quits before a marque tournament, which is what Lasith Malinga has done, citing his injury-prone body as a cop out from leadership. Thankfully Sri Lanka have an able replacement in Test and ODI captain Angelo Mathews.

Heading into a world tournament, has there ever been a side who look more inept at defending their crown than Sri Lanka at this month’s World T20? Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara led them to the title two years ago, but now look like a unit devoid of not just their two legends, but their identity as well.

It’s never a good sign when your captain decides to call it quits before a marque tournament, which is what Lasith Malinga has done, citing his injury-prone body as a cop out from leadership. Thankfully Sri Lanka have an able replacement in Test and ODI captain Angelo Mathews. Malinga did not play in any of Sri Lanka’s defeats in the Asia Cup, and their selectors’ wisdom to appoint him captain was questionable and entirely avoidable.

Speaking of the selection committee, the incumbent panel has been sacked by Sri Lanka Cricket ahead of the World T20. 1996 World Cup winner Aravinda de Silva was appointed to lead the new panel which also includes the legendary Kumar Sangakkara.

The newly-appointed selection committee has already had an immediate impact on the squad. Lahiru Thirimanne – a player admired by both De Silva and Sangakkara – and Suranga Lakmal have been drafted into the squad, replacing the previously-selected Jeffrey Vandersay and Niroshan Dickwella. In the controversial absence of Kusal Perera, who faces a lengthy doping ban, Thirimanne is a far more able deputy with his experience and international know-how.

While the SLC has earned credit for overhauling the selection committee, it was only a few weeks ago that they were childishly accusing Sri Lankan legend Mahela Jayawardene of being a traitor. Jayawardene is on a ten-day consulting role with England in the lead-up to the World T20 and faced accusations of an ethics breach, but Mahela merely laughed off such suggestions.

What we can expect

The recent inclusions into their World T20 squad have done Sri Lanka no harm whatsoever. A batting line-up featuring Thirimanne, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews is certainly a force to be reckoned with. However, the key to Sri Lanka’s success will be the fitness, or lack of it, of Malinga. While Nuwan Kulasekara is dependable to a tee, Malinga has the ability to win games for the Lankans single-handedly.

 

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