Sri Lanka skipper Dasun Shanaka has said the aim of the former World T20 champions will be to win all three First Round Group games to ensure they are in a “good state of mind” when they reach the ‘Super 12’ stage in the ICC T20 World Cup here.
Following an easy seven-wicket win against Namibia, the 2014 World T20 champions will take on Ireland — who have been equally impressive in their Group A game against the Netherlands, defeating the Dutch by seven wickets — later on Wednesday.
Ahead of the match, which will be Sri Lanka’s toughest in the Group stage, Shanaka said, “Winning all three games will definitely put us in a good state of mind, adjusting to conditions will help in the main tournament.”
The higher ranked Sri Lanka (10th) might hold the edge going into the encounter but not by much as Ireland (ranked 12th) will be brimming with confidence after their strong showing against the Netherlands.
The Sri Lankan spin duo of Maheesh Theekshana and Wanindu Hasaranga shared five wickets between them but not before their fast bowlers — Chamika Karunaratne, Dushmantha Chameera and later Lahiru Kumara — rattled Namibia’s batters with their raw pace. Their performance only highlighted what coach Mickey Arthur had predicted, labelling the attack as “almost ideal” ahead of the tournament.
Ireland would be confident of their bowling attack as well, especially Curtis Campher, who etched his name in record books by taking four wickets in consecutive deliveries, becoming only the third bowler in men’s T20Is after Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga and Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan to accomplish the feat.
He was complimented well by Mark Adair, who finished with figures of 4-0-9-3. Skipper Andy Balbirnie will be hoping for an encore of that performance against Sri Lanka. However, it will be the Irish batters, who will have their task cut out against the quality of the Sri Lankan bowling unit.
Ireland look a well-settled side and would not want to tinker too much with a winning combination, while they would be hoping for their star batters at the top of the order — Kevin O’brien and captain Balbirnie — come good in the clash against the former champions.
If Sri Lanka win they will all but secure qualification in the next stage, with four points from two games, besides having a healthy run rate. Even a narrow loss in their last fixture against the Netherlands could still see them go through.
If Ireland win they too might have one foot in the next round and could even derail Sri Lanka’s chances of qualifying as it would then mean the Lankans would have to win their final game against the Dutch team.
Possible Ireland playing XI: Paul Stirling, Kevin O’Brien, Andy Balbirnie, Gareth Delany, Curtis Campher, Harry Tector, Neil Rock, Simi Singh, Mark Adair, Josh Little, Ben White.
Possible Sri Lanka playing XI: Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Perera, Dinesh Chandimal, Avishka Fernando, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Dasun Shanaka, Chamika Karunaratne, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dushmantha Chameera, Maheesh Theekshana, Lahiru Kumara.