Shanaka, Erasmus upbeat about starting T20 World Cup on winning note ahead of tournament opener

The ICC Men’s T20 World Cup finally kicks off from Sunday when 2014 champions Sri Lanka face Namibia at Geelong’s Kardinia Park Stadium in Group A of the First Round. It will be followed by the United Arab Emirates facing off against the Netherlands later in the evening at the same venue.

Sri Lanka will be in the battle for a Super 12 place alongside Namibia, UAE and the Netherlands. But the mood in the camp is buoyant after a landmark Asia Cup victory in the UAE, which is the reason behind the upbeat attitude of skipper Dasun Shanaka.

“After a very good Asia Cup, we are very confident. The environment is really good. We are well focused on our batting. As it is the early summer, the conditions will be somewhat different, so we are really focusing on that. We are prepared for the challenge so we are looking forward for a good tournament,” said Shanaka during the captains’ day event in Melbourne.

Asked about the preparedness of his team ahead of World Cup, Shanaka explained, “Apart from that, I think the bowlers, they are really shaping up, so (Dushmantha) Chameera is back with us and Lahiru Kumara is back with us, so they are plus points coming from the Asia Cup. It depends on the day (coming out with a winning result). T20 cricket we never know who will be good, when. I think the better teams come out of the day with a win.”

Namibia had made a big impression on their T20 World Cup debut in the UAE and Oman in 2021, surging through to the Super 12 stage and even getting a win there.

In the 2022 T20 World Cup, the challenge for Gerhard Erasmus’s side will be to deliver again without the element of surprise they had in 2021. Undoubtedly, Namibia will lean heavily on fast bowling all-rounder David Wiese and left-arm fast bowler Ruben Trumpelmann.

“I guess this year is a bit different to last year. We could sort of ride on that underdog factor and go with it and there’s a bit more expectation perhaps this year to go one better. Our preparations have been really nice getting to Wangaratta in the countryside of Australia quite early and getting accustomed to things around here.

“So I guess we’ll try and stall the underdog tag for a little bit longer, but yeah, when the real stuff starts, you need to bring the high-level skill that the guys play at the World Cup if we can do that,” stated Erasmus.

Geelong is an hour’s drive away from Melbourne and with the area being home to a majority of the Sri Lankan community, Shanaka hopes to see huge support for his team during first round matches.

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