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ICC Champions Trophy: Sri Lanka, youngsters key in transition phase

It will be a challenge for Sri Lanka, led by Angelo Mathews, to deliver in the ICC Champions Trophy in England as it is in a tough pool with India, Pakistan and South Africa (Group B)

icc champions trophy 2017 Updated: May 30, 2017 10:06 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Champions Trophy 2017,ICC Champions Trophy,Sri Lankan Cricket Team
Sri Lanka has not clicked in the ODI format so much ahead of the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy.(AFP)

Sri Lankan cricket has not been the same since stalwarts like Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Mutthiah Muralitharan and Dilshan Tillakaratne retired. The Island team is said to be in a transitional phase with young cricketers Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Mendis, Asela Gunaratne and Kusal Perera in the mix.

The Sri Lankan team which has fared well in Test cricket over the last one year has not clicked in the ODI format and has lost matches to South Africa, England and Australia. However, Sri Lanka beat teams like Zimbabwe, Ireland and West Indies in ODIs.

Sri Lanka
  • ICC ODI ranking: 6
  • Champions Trophy track record: Matches 24, wins 13 , losses 11

It will be a challenge for the team led by the 29-year-old all-rounder Angelo Mathews to deliver in the ICC Champions Trophy in England as it is in a tough pool with India, Pakistan and South Africa (Group B). The yorker-specialist Lasith Malinga has also been included in the 15-member Sri Lanka squad for Champions Trophy.

Sri Lanka head coach Graham Ford believes Malinga will be a vital cog in the team for Champions Trophy despite having had a niggle. Malinga has not played an ODI since November 2015 but he made a return to international T20s against Australia in February, after a year-long layoff. The Sri Lankan Cricket Board hiring former South Africa pace spearhead Allan Donald as bowling consultant should lift the team’s chances in the mega-event.

ODI performance 2016-17: Played 27, won 7, lost 15 (since Jan 2016)

Sri Lanka will begin their campaign against South Africa on June 3 at the Kia Oval, followed by games against India (June 8) and Pakistan (June 12) at Kia Oval and Cardiff, respectively. Sri Lanka were joint-winners with India in 2002 at home and reached the semifinal in the last ICC Champions Trophy in 2013.The team will largely bank on all-rounder Angelo Mathews, Upul Tharanga, Kusal Mendis, Lasith Malinga, Dinesh Chandimal and Thisara Perera.

Squad: Angelo Mathews (captain), Upul Tharanga, Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Chamara Kapugedera, Asela Gunaratne, Dinesh Chandimal, Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Nuwan Kulasekera, Thisara Perera, Lakshan Sandakan, Seekkuge Prasanna.

Key players:

Lasith Malinga: The 33-year-old pace bowler can be instrumental in shaping his team’s fortunes in English conditions, however, there will always be a question mark over his fitness. Having played a handful of matches for Mumbai Indians in the IPL and taken a few wickets, Malinga has performed well under the supervision of coach Mahela Jayawardene. This will be Malinga’s fourth Champions Trophy and he needs nine wickets to become the 13th overall and third Sri Lankan after Muttiah Muralidaran (534) and Chaminda Vaas (400) to complete 300 ODI wickets.

Angelo Mathews: Mathews, who played for Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premiere League (IPL), is back in the team after recovering from a hamstring injury. With 180 ODIs under his belt, all-rounder Mathews has 4492 runs and 11 wickets to his credit, becoming the most experienced and reliable player in the outfit.

Kusal Mendis: The 22-year-old batsman rose to fame last year when he scored 176 runs against Australia in a Test, becoming the youngest Sri Lankan to score above 150 runs. He hit two centuries against Bangladesh, one in the ODIs and another in the Tests recently. He can be a surprise element in the Sri Lankan batting line-up.

First Published: May 22, 2017 21:18 IST