Sri Lanka squad for India T20Is: Angelo Mathews recall lends stability, Malinga soldiers on and more
As Lasith Malinga continues to lead Sri Lanka for the T20Is against India, Angelo Mathews' presence will provide solidity to the Sri Lankan batting line-up which has several firecrackers like Kusal Perera, Niroshan Dickwella and Bhanuka Rajapaksa.
Sri Lanka has had a mixed bag as far as their last three T20I series are concerned. The team unexpectedly whitewashed Pakistan at home and that is when they were not even playing at full strength. The Lankans then gave New Zealand good competition in a T20I series they hosted but lost it 2-1. Their most recent series against Australia proved to be a disaster as the team was no match for the mighty Australians in their backyard.
Sri Lanka has announced a 16-member squad for the three-match T2I series against India, starting on January 5. Two other matches will be played on January 7 and January 10, with both teams looking to sharpen their weapons in the lead up to the T20 World Cup.
Angelo Mathews back in The Lion's scheme of things
Angelo Mathews finds himself back in the mix after a gap of one and a half years. He last played a T20I in August 2018. Mathews' start-stop career has seen him suffer several injuries which have only worsened in the last couple of years. This has led him to give up bowling and now makes the team as a pure batsman.
Mathews may not be an out and out striker but he will be the glue that will hold the Sri Lankan batting line-up together. The team already has several batsmen who can go hell for leather like Dasun Shanaka, Kusal Perera, Niroshan Dickwella, Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Kusal Mendis. The addition of Avishka Fernando in the top order has further provided substance to the line-up.
Lasith Malinga continues to lead in T20Is
Lasith Malinga seemed done for all money in 2018 but he slogged his way back to fitness. Malinga helped Mumbai Indians win the title in IPL 2019. He then led his side beautifully in the ODI World Cup. Malinga was the top wicket-taker for the team in the event with 13 scalps from 7 matches, his last appearance in the ODI format.
The veteran backed his performances in the showpiece event with 7 wickets in the three-match T20I series against New Zealand at home which included a double hat-trick i.e four wickets in four balls to become the first bowler to claim five international hat-tricks. In his last match of the T20I series, he ended with extraordinary figures of 5/6.
Malinga could not quite work his magic against Australia and finished with two wickets from three games. But, he bowled at an economy of under 8, impressive given the way in which Australia batted through that series. The veteran is likely to continue to lead the team at least until the 2020 T20 World Cup.
Death bowling troubles
Lasith Malinga is an undisputed star at the death of the team and one of the best death bowlers of all time. But, he has little to no support on this front. The only other bowler to have some repute of bowling at the death for Sri Lanka is all-rounder Isuru Udana. Udana has developed good slower deliveries and can hold his own in the slog overs. But, he too went for plenty against Australia.
Nuwan Pradeep, a Lankan bowler who did well against Australia, suffered an injury during a practice session and has been replaced by Kasun Rajitha, who himself missed the 2nd Test against Pakistan due to injury.
Rajitha and Lahiru Kumara have a tendency to leak a lot of runs at the death and have gone for big runs over and over again. In fact, Rajitha conceded as many as 75 runs in the only T20I he played in Australia.
Sri Lanka's T20I squad - Lasith Malinga, Danushka Gunathilaka, Avishka Fernando, Angelo Mathews, Dasun Shanaka, Kusal Janith Perera, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Dhananjaya De Silva, Isuru Udana, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Oshada Fernando, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lahiru Kumara, Kusal Mendis, Lakshan Sandakan
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