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Sri Lanka desperate to add Twenty20 to collection
25 Apr, 2010 06:42:19
April 25, 2010 (AFP) - Sri Lanka, world champions in the 50-over format in 1996, are desperate to add the Twenty20 title to their collection in the Caribbean after a series of near-misses.
Captain Kumar Sangakkara's men lost the World T20 championship by eight wickets to Pakistan at Lords last year.

Two years earlier, the Sri Lankans lost to Australia in the final of the World Cup while the same opponents went on to deny them a semi-final place in the inaugural World Twenty20 later in 2007.

"Our focus is to bring the cup home this time after we lost to Pakistan last year. A Twenty20 World Cup will be good for our collection," team manager Anura Tennakoon told AFP.

Sri Lanka have gone for a blend of youth and experience for the Caribbean World Twenty20 that runs from April 30 to May 16.

The squad boasts one of the most lethal bowling attacks on the international scene, from the pace of Lasith Malinga to the spin of Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis.

The tropical Indian Ocean Island will also look to Tillakaratne Dilshan to reproduce his starring role of 2009 when he captured the Player of the Tournament award.

Sangakkara says the team is in a transition period where some seniors are reaching the end of their careers while younger players are making a push to fill the gaps.

"We now have to try and get the combinations right and the players right. So it's tough but it's also interesting," Sangakkara said.

Sri Lanka's 15-man squad has barely practiced together, with most of the players contracted to the Indian Premier League.

"Most of the experienced players were in India and that has hampered our preparation. I think if we can get everyone together and perform, our chances are pretty good," said Tennakoon.

Sri Lanka make up Group B alongside New Zealand and Zimbabwe and former skipper Mahela Jayawardene says neither team can be taken lightly.

"New Zealand has got a really good all-round team which can be totally devastating. Zimbabwe has done well, especially in the West Indies and have got some explosive players who can really take it away from you," he said.

The last time Sri Lanka played in the Caribbean, Jayawardene led them to the final of the World Cup in 2007.

This time round, he hopes the team can go all the way and bring home the silverware.

"You have to make sure that on a match day, you turn it on and get the job done. So, we have to really take one game at a time, get through the group stage which is very important and then try to continue all the way."

Uncapped batsman Dinesh Chandimal is the only rookie in the 15-man squad that includes the world's leading Test and one-day wicket taker Muralitharan. The squad also includes veteran batsman Sanath Jayasuriya, who turns 41 in June.

Tennakoon says big names like Dilshan, Jayawardene and Sangakkara are in good form, along with youngsters like all-rounder Angelo Mathews and Mendis.

Sri Lanka take on New Zealand in the opening match on April 30 at the Guyana International Stadium, where Malinga made history in 2007, taking four wickets in four balls against South Africa.

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