Oct 20 (ICC) – Sri Lanka will be a dangerous proposition for any team in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 if they can get their batting firing, according to head coach Mickey Arthur.
The 2014 champions came into the tournament ranked outside the top eight of the MRF Tyres ICC Men’s T20I team rankings, having struggled for consistency in the format.
But they laid down a marker to their rivals with an impressive seven-wicket win over Namibia in their opening match as they moved one step closer to qualifying for the Super 12s stage.
And while the Lions have not been talked about among the favourites for the title, Arthur believes his team can compete with the very best if they can raise their level with the bat.
“All I can say is I see these boys train, I see these boys work, I see these boys put the effort in behind the scenes, we’re as professional an outfit as anybody in the competition,” he said.
“I thought our bowling performance last night [against Namibia] was exceptional, that bowling performance was as good as any bowling unit in this competition.
“I think our fielding standards have gone to another level, without a doubt. If we can just get our batting firing, we’re going to be very dangerous.”
Sri Lanka’s seam trio Chamika Karunaratne, Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara were the stars of the show against Namibia at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium.
They took a combined four for 45 from their 11.3 overs while 21-year-old mystery spinner Maheesh Theekshana also shone with three for 25 in their Group A triumph.
And ahead of Sri Lanka’s meeting with Ireland, who also won their opening contest against the Netherlands, Arthur insisted he could not be happier with his side’s bowling prowess.
“For us to have two bowlers of genuine quality bowling at 145kph that makes a massive difference and we know that any team doesn’t like facing them,” he added.
“They are genuine wicket-takers, their skills have got better over the last five months so we’re comfortable having them attack for us. Dushmantha Chameera has gone to another level.
“He really has, he’s now genuinely world class so for us to have those bowlers in our bowling line-up gives us a real good balance of pace, Chamika [Karunaratne] brings a bit of swing.
“And then we’ve got our two wrist spinners, it’s almost the ideal bowling attack.”
Ireland have only clashed once before with Sri Lanka in T20Is, with the Lions taking the victory in a closely-contested match in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup back in 2009.
But Ireland have come a long way since then and buoyed by their win over Netherlands in their first match, head coach Graham Ford said his team are looking forward to the challenge.
“Sri Lanka, probably about half the squad I know pretty well, and I know the coach very well. We know they’re going to be a very competitive, energetic unit,” he said.
“They have had great success in this format in previous years and in previous T20 World Cups, so it will be a huge game for us. I think it’s a really exciting challenge.
“We’ve played a lot of emphasis on really trying to get out and enjoy and enjoy the challenges of this opportunity. So it will be a special day, but yes, they are a talented group.
“A group that probably have some players that do things a little differently. They have some players that are able to do some unorthodox stuff that make a difference.
“The lads have got a lot of information on them, but at the end of the day, like I said the last evening [before our first game], it is going to be about how we play on the day.
“We pitched up [against the Netherlands] and played with real positive energy and commitment, and if we bring that in again on Wednesday, we give ourselves a good chance.”