Upbeat after a scintillating victory in the recently concluded Asia Cup, Sri Lanka will look to put behind their past two defeats in the ICC World Twenty20 finals and target back-to-back titles in Bangladesh.
The islanders earned a morale booster ahead of the 2014 World Twenty20 by becoming the Asian champions for the fifth time. With just few days to go before the 16-team ICC World Twenty20 kicks off on March 16, the two-time runners-up (2009 and 2012) will be the team to watch out for in the tournament.
Here's a SWOT analysis on the Sri Lanka team:
The Asian champions will look to put the disappointment of losing the 2009 and 2012 final behind them and build on their Asia Cup triumph.
Strengths: The Lankan team looks a balanced outfit on both batting and bowling fronts. With the likes of Lahiru Thirimanne, the highest run-getter in the Asia Cup; the prolific Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, the Dinesh Chandimal-led squad's batting wears a solid look. Besides, Tillakaratne Dilshan will return after a finger injury to bolster the top order. And hard-hitters like Kusal Perera, Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera provide the thrust needed lower down the order in the T20 format.
In the bowling department, vice-captain Lasith Malinga remains the key. His deadly toe-crushers in the death overs are an ace up a captain's sleeve and can turn a match on its head. To support Malinga's pace will be the mystery spin of Ajantha Mendis and Sachithra Senanayake who will relish the Bangladesh conditions to fox the batsmen.
Weaknesses: Spinner Rangana Herath and Dilshan are returning from injuries, which leaves a question mark over their match fitness, though they are experienced enough to get back into their groove quickly.
Old guard Jayawardene's form hasn't been that promising of late, despite his 70-odd in the Asia Cup final against Pakistan. Jayawardene, who went unsold at the IPL 7 players' auction, couldn't do much in the Asia Cup scoring just 111 runs in 5 matches at an average of 22.20. If he and Dilshan can hit a Sangakkara-like purple patch, Sri Lanka will become an even difficult proposition in familiar conditions.
Past performances at World Twenty20:
2012: As hosts, Sri Lanka failed to capitalise on home advantage and fell at the final hurdle where they lost to West Indies in the summit clash. The Jayawardene-led team lost the final by 36 runs.
2010: The venue was West Indies. Sri Lanka, who were playing in Group B along with New Zealand and Zimbabwe, started off on a bad note losing their first match to the Kiwis by 2 wickets but managed to qualify for the Super 8s. Victories against West Indies and India earned the islanders a semi-final berth where they faced Paul Collingwood's England who comfortably won the match by seven wickets.
2009: The second edition of the tournament saw Sri Lanka reaching their first World Twenty20 final. They defeated Pakistan, Ireland and New Zealand in the Super 8s to reach the last-four in style. The Lankans crushed West Indies by 57 runs to qualify for the final, where they lost to the eventual champions Pakistan by 8 wickets.
2007: Sri Lanka's stay in the inaugural edition of the tournament ended at the Super 8s stage where they faced humiliating defeats at the hands of Australia and Pakistan.
Chances this year: Placed in Group 1 alongside South Africa, England and New Zealand, Sri Lanka appear to be the best outfit given the subcontinent conditions, the strength of their spinners and the vulnerability of their opponents against the turning ball. They should not have much problem reaching the semi-finals.
March 22: South Africa vs Sri Lanka in Chittagong
March 24: Sri Lanka vs TBD (Qualifier B1) in Chittagong
March 27: England vs Sri Lanka in Chittagong
March 31: New Zealand vs Sri Lanka in Chittagong
Squad: Dinesh Chandimal (c), Lasith Malinga (vc), Chaturanga de Silva, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Rangana Herath, Mahela Jayawardene, Nuwan Kulasekara, Suranga Lakmal, Angelo Mathews, Ajantha Mendis, Kusal Perera, Thisara Perera, Seekkuge Prasanna, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Sachithra Senanayake, Lahiru Thirimanne