Here comes second team in review list Sri Lanka and its review (preview?) for ICC Champions Trophy 2009. It should have come quite earlier but my lazy ass doesn’t want to do anything, sorry for that. But no worries here I come.
Sri Lanka has been evolved into a very consistent performing team specially in shorter format of the game. From an innovative attacking team to a reliable balanced team journey is pretty pleasant for Sri Lanka. Mahela Jawerdene led the team very well in recent years but his cricketing form was not at its best from quite some time now so he made a very good and brave decision and stepped out of captaincy at right time. Kumar Sangakkara has proved to be a very good captain so far specially in test series against Pakistan and New Zealand at home although they had home advantage. But he had a real chance to prove his worth in ICCCT in South African conditions against best teams. Sri Lanka is very capable of emerging as a champion, stay put.
A well balanced team as you can easily judge from the squad:
Kumar Sangakkara (capt), Sanath Jayasuriya, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Mahela Jayawardene, Thilan Samaraweera, Chamara Kapugedera, Angelo Mathews, Muttiah Muralitharan, Ajantha Mendis, Thilan Thushara, Nuwan Kulasekara, Dammika Prasad, Lasith Malinga, Thilina Kandamby
Top order is exciting as always, Jayasuriya the grandpa is still hitting like a teenager, just today he had good go on Indians but fell just 2 short of another quick ton. Dilshan is in supreme form with all his innovations and scoops going well can be once again in top batsmen of the trophy like T20 cup in England in June. Then rock solid pair of Sangakkara and Jayawardene sums up their top order.
There problem in middle order and lower middle order just seems to get resolved specially after the inclusion of Angelo Mathews, what a talent he is. A true all-rounder for Sri Lanka, just took 6 top Indian wickets to demolish them in league match of Compaq Cup tri series.
Bowling attack has legend like Murali with Mendis plus fast bowling attack is also looking very good with Kulasekara and Thushara and don’t forget Salinga Malinga.
There strength is in the balanced side with healthy bowling attack, attacking top order and solid and capable middle and lower middle order. When openers set up the platform with quick fire 50-70 runs, a perfect platform is already built for upcoming exciting batsmen. From there on they can build quite a sizeable total to challenge any opponent by there wicked bowling attack.
Kulasekara and Thushara are in-form opening bowling pair for them specially Kulasekara with his ability to swing the ball early on and Thushara with his accuracy. In backup they have Malinga with Mathew. Then come spin pair of double M ( M & M ) Murali and Mendis.
Biggest weakness is in the middle order I think, If you get their top order cheaply you get lot of inroads into there batting line up. When big guns get out early there is a lot of pressure on middle and lower middle order. So early wickets against Sri Lanka is key to success.
Any team which can play there spinners well always has some chances to put them under pressure. Like Pakistan and India has good record against spin duo.
Sri Lanka is in relatively easy group considering England and New Zealand recent ODI form. Simply very bright chances of making it to semi finals.
Semi Final place is almost must for Sri Lanka specially considering the way England and New Zealand are playing. From there on it is always 50/50 as worlds top four teams will be there but still I think they had pretty good chance of even making it to final, yes The Final but no more guess after that *wink*.
So lets say 70% : 30% chances of winning or say making it to final.
PS: They just crushed India in ODI by 139 runs. Sanath and Mathew are the heros of the match, more details here.