Mahela says Sri Lanka ‘favourites’ to win Nidahas trophy
Tuesday, 06 March 2018 - 15:37
Former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene believes that despite not having two key players, the hosts are capable of lifting the Nidahas Trophy in Sri Lanka, the T20I tri-series also featuring India and Bangladesh.
Sri Lanka will be without Angelo Mathews and Asela Gunaratne, while India has rested skipper Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya and Kuldeep Yadav.
Writing in today’s Times of India, Jayawardene felt that Sri Lanka’s chances were good despite a perceived weakness in the bowling.
“Given home advantage, growing confidence under Coach Chandika Hathurusingha, and the fact that India is not at full-strength, I think Sri Lanka can be fairly labelled as the favourites. But I would definitely not write off India who are blessed with strength in depth these days,” wrote Jayawardene, who played 448 ODIs, 149 ODIs and 55 T20Is.
“It’s been an encouraging start to the year for this young Sri Lanka team under the stewardship of new coach Chandika Hathurusingha. We definitely had a year to forget in 2017 but there were some positive signs during the recent tour to Bangladesh, where the team completed an unexpected clean-sweep. This upturn in form and confidence makes the upcoming Nidahas Trophy very interesting indeed. It should be very competitive despite India resting some of their core players. The Indian young guns will be desperate to make an impression and Bangladesh will be striving to bounce back after their disappointing Sri Lanka tour.”
According to Jayawardene, who retired from T20Is after Sri Lanka beat India in the final of the 2014 ICC World Twenty20, the lack of international experience in the home team’s bowling was a worry.
“Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep and Dushmantha Chameera are all inexperienced in this format. It’s going to be a real test of their skills and I am looking forward to seeing how they perform at critical high-pressure moments when it is very tough for the fast bowlers. The absence of Lasith, in particular, places extra pressure on the fast bowlers,” he wrote.
India, led by Rohit Sharma in Kohli’s absence, has given opportunities to several fringe players in Washington Sundar, Rishabh Pant, Deepak Hooda, Vijay Shankar and Mohammad Siraj. Jayawardene understood the selectors’ decision to rest some of the big names given the IPL and tour of England that loom large.
“It will be interesting to see what combination India go with today given the absence of most of their T20 stalwarts. The selectors will be excited about an opportunity to see some youngsters perform. Given a tough touring schedule and the IPL fast approaching, the decision to manage the workloads of some of their biggest stars is certainly understandable,” wrote the 40-year-old.
“I would expect Sri Lanka to have requested good batting pitches, but with the current heat in Colombo, plus the fact that all matches are to be played at the Premadasa International Stadium, I think we will see the batsmen being challenged a little more than would be the case on typical sub-continental pitches. It should be a good balance between bat and ball.”