As Sri Lanka build up to the ICC T20 World Cup, head coach Mickey Arthur believes if the batting can step up to to complement the improved bowling and fielding units, his side has a very good chance of doing well in the tournament.
Sri Lanka are placed in Group A with Ireland, Netherland and Namibia in the qualifiers before the Super 12 stage. “I think if our batting clicks it’ll give us a really good chance because I think our bowling attack is very good and our fielding standards have improved dramatically. That is an area we’ve worked extremely hard on over the past nine days. We’ve had three practice games, we’ve had some skill sessions to prepare players to sweep, we identified where and how we want our players to play. We’ve almost scripted a game,” Mickey Arthur said.
“We’ve been very clear in what we want our players to do in terms of our match practice, and then we’ve gone to nets after that, reviewed it and practised it. So, I’m really comfortable now that we have got better at it. But it’s certainly a work in progress. There’s no magic wand here.
“It’s easy to stand and try and hit boundaries, but having the ability to deflect a ball into a gap off a good ball is a real art. That’s the real art of batsmanship. So, we’ve done a lot of drills during this phase, and we’ve harped on that. That’s something I’ve been working on for the last nine months with our group.”
Sri Lanka have made five changes to the travelling party after the squad was announced last month. Arthur felt flexibility will be key for Sri Lanka. “I think the good thing with the squad we’ve got at the moment is that we can be flexible, we can certainly be flexible in terms of how we set our team up,” he said.
“I’ve been watching the IPL very intently because we’re going to be playing on the same wickets. Looking at the conditions, we’ll probably go two seamers and two spinners, and then our allrounders, and potentially another part-time spinner from our top-order batsman. But we are flexible enough – if the wickets dry out considerably – to go with three out-and-out spinners.
Sri Lanka will be without Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis and Niroshan Dickwella, who have been suspended by Sri Lanka Cricket for their misconduct during the tour of England. Arthur conceded that it did come as a blow to them. “That was a massive blow for us. You’re talking about three of your top-five batters in the white-ball format there. That was a bitter pill to swallow for sure. You suddenly got back to square one in terms of your planning again,” he pointed out.
“It was really disappointing, but it led us to find the likes of Charith Asalanka, who has come on beautifully, Kamindu Mendis, who’s playing beautifully, Pathum Nissanka probably got another opportunity again. It’s allowed Dinesh Chandimal to come back into the mix. Bhanuka Rajapaksa to come back into the mix. So out of that adversity it’s allowed opportunities to other players.”
Sri Lanka, however, have been boosted by Kusal Perera making a good recovery from his injury and the southpaw is shaping up nicely ahead of the World Cup.