Preview - ICC Champions Trophy 2017 - Sri Lanka.

A solitary win in eight ODI matches in the year 2017 proves why Sri Lanka is at No. 6 in the ICC ODI rankings. They lost 0-5 to South Africa in South Africa earlier this year and then came back from behind to win the third ODI against Bangladesh to draw the home series.
His recent form and fitness suggests that Angelo Mathews is no more the Angelo Mathews we knew about. He will be donning the Sri Lankan colours after a hiatus of nine months. Having said that, the 29-year old all-rounder would be longing to be back among the runs, the wickets and the fitness!

Kusal Mendis is likely to bat at the all important No. 3 position.
In what was their best attempt in the ICC Champions Trophy, Sri Lanka shared the title with India in 2002 on home soil. They lost to India in the semi-final by 8 wickets in 2013. They might not seem as the favourites this year, but you never know with this game of cricket!

Expected Playing Eleven

1) Niroshan Dickwella 2) Upul Tharanga 3) Kusal Mendis 4) Dinesh Chandimal (wk) 5) Angelo Mathews (c) 6) Asela Gunaratne 7) Seekkuge Prasanna 8) Thisara Perera 9) Nuwan Kulasekara 10) Lasith Malinga 11) Suranga Lakmal

Specification

The best part about torrid times is that it brings out some of the best talents from a team. Highest scorer for Sri Lanka during the ODI series in South Africa, Niroshan Dickwella, is one such talent. The 23-year old southpaw scored 197 runs in five matches at a strike rate of 114.53, providing his team with fiery starts. He and Upul Tharanga are the two best suited batsmen to open the innings for Sri Lanka. In the 12 ODIs that he has played in England, Tharanga has scored 533 runs at an average of 53.30 and a strike rate 90.18. His experience will be vital for Sri Lanka at the top of the order.
Kusal Mendis has impressed one and all in his short career so far. Someone of his potential is best suited for the No. 3 position. In Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews, Sri Lanka have a background of 305 ODIs. Both of them have it in them to access a given situation and then go all guns blazing during the death overs. The senior duo will, unequivocally, hold the key for Sri Lanka.
With a respective batting strike rate of 87.63, 103.05 and 110.57, the presence of Asela Gunaratne, Seekkuge Prasanna and Thisara Perera add more firepower to the Sri Lankan batting order. Gunaratne and Perera's medium-pace in combination with Prasanna's leg-breaks add further value to the team.
Lakmal will have seniors in the form of Malinga and
Kulasekara to look upon.
To give Mathews accompany in terms of comeback, will be Lasith Malinga, who last played an ODI in November 2015 (against West Indies). Malinga recently played 12 matches in the Premier League. Returns of 11 wickets at an economy rate of 8.52 is lower by his standards. However, the Sri Lankan fans would be rejoiced by the fact that he has gained full fitness. The trio of Malinga, Kulasekara and Lakmal account for 574 ODI victims. Such an experience is likely to come good in the English conditions. Talking of records on personal front, Malinga (291) and Kulasekara (199) need nine and one more wicket to reach 300 and 200 ODI wickets respectively.

Bench Strength

It has been a while now since we know the potential threat that can be caused by the bat of Kusal Perera. Whenever given an opportunity, he would perhaps be looking to let his bat do the talking. Chamara Kapugedara is another such name who bats in the middle order. In the bowling department, Sri Lanka can acquire the services of right-arm fast-medium bowler Nuwan Pradeep and slow left-arm chinaman bowler Lakshan Sandakan as the tournament progresses.

Inaugural Match

03/06/2017 (Saturday) - Sri Lanka vs South Africa at The Oval, London.

Photo credits - ESPN cricinfo.

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