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Monday, 19 January 2015 00:00 Written by  Published in Sports
 time.com

Sri Lanka name strong squad for World Cup assault

Angelo Matthew’s leads a strong Sri Lankan squad to the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand with the burden on his shoulders to try and emulate or surpass the efforts of his predecessors, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena by making the final and then winning the elusive plum of world cricket.

Both Sangakkara and Jayawardene led the Lankans to the final hurdle in the Caribbean and Mumbai only to fall periliously close to winning a second World Cup which was snatched away from them by Australia and India making it frustrating to the cricket mad Island nation who have tasted a single success under Arjuna Ranatunge in 1996.

Looking at the balance of the Sri Lankan squad it must be said that this is one of the most accomplished taems they have ever selected but the key lies in getting the choices right against the various opposition they face. 

Angelo Matthews has amply demonstrated that he has stepped into the big time as a leader having prospered from haveing the luxury of three former captains mentoring him through his appernticeship. He is currently leading from the front , thriving in the leadership role which has improved his own form despite the extra responsibility. He needs a few from the younger brigade such as Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dimuth Karunaratne, Jeevan Mendis and Thisara Perera to step up with more consistency if Sr Lanka cricket is to progress.

Beating Australia at home is indeed daunting, and the very fact that Sri Lanka have been drawn in the same group as the hosts including New Zealand makes their task of qualifying  one of the hardest prospects among all the favourites outside of home.

But champions are made of stuff where when the going gets tough, the tough get going and Sri Lanka have shown in previous tournaments that they can adapt to any conditions without undue stress.

Their success rate in the one-day format is better than some of the founder nations despite being in the top rung for just over three decades. They have in fact outdone many of the older nations by virtue of  two World Cup successes while  making four unsuccessful World Cup finals including  the T20 format.

Australia, South Africa and India loom as the pre-tournament favourites by virtue of their rankings, with Sri Lanka, West Indies and Pakistan rated as the second tier favourites by the experts. But my prediction is that New Zealand may be the dark horse of this years World Cup seeing them making steady progress in all forms of the game recently with some amazing young new talent emerging over the past year or more.

Unlike in the past, this World Cup will see the emergence of some fantastic new talent from the lesser nations and for me one of the rapidliy rising countries is Afganistan who have unearthed some amazing talent.

Batting will be the key in this part of the world where bouncy and pacy tracks will test the best exponents of the willow. So it is the teams with depth that will survive in case of early collapse and their chances will rely heavily on the targets set for the opposition.

Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and India boast  the most lethal fast bowling combinations and it is no secret that the fast men are expected to dominate in this part of the world. But teams like Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan have confounded those theories many a time with their spin bowling mastery and it will be interesting to see if they can pull off more surprises this time around as well.

Sri Lanka will be emotion charged at this World Cup with the impending departures of some of their favourite sons, Mahela Jayawardena, Kumar Sangakkara, Tillekeratne Dilshan, Rangana Herath and Nuwan Kulesekera who have been at the forefront of their success over the decades. They will not be at the next World Cup so a win will be fitting reward for their efforts over a long period of time.

Millions of Sri Lankan supporters will be glued to thier performances and will be praying that their heroes get a fitting send off into retirement.

Following players selected for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015

1.Angelo Mathews (Captain)

2.T.M Dilshan

3.Kumar Sangakkara

4.Mahela Jayawardena

5.Lahiru Thirimanne (V.Capt)

6.Dinesh Chandimal

7.Dimuth Karunaratne

8.Jeevan Mendis

9.Thisara Perera

10.Suranga Lakmal

11.Lasith Malinga (Subject to fitness)

12.Dhammika Prasad

13.Nuwan Kulasekara

14.Rangana Herath

15.Sachithra Senanayake

Last modified on Monday, 19 January 2015 13:55