Soon after Sri Lanka coach claimed India as favorites to win the tournament which starts today in Colombo, former Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene believes that Sri Lanka has a very good chance of surprising everyone and winning the tournament. Sri Lanka will be without their regular skipper Angelo Mathews, while Dinesh Chadimal will don the skipper's role for the series.
In a column which he wrote for Times of India, Jayawardene reflected on the chances of Sri Lanka's win.
“Given home advantage, growing confidence under coach Chandika Hathuruasingha, and the fact that India are not at full-strength, I think Sri Lanka can be fairly labelled as the favourites. But I would definitely not write off India who are blessed with strength in depth these days,” wrote Jayawardene.
“It’s been an encouraging start to the year for this young Sri Lanka team under the stewardship of new coach Chandika Hathurasingha. We definitely had a year to forget in 2017 but there were some positive signs during the recent tour to Bangladesh, where the team completed an unexpected clean-sweep. This upturn in form and confidence makes the upcoming Nidahas Trophy very interesting indeed. It should be very competitive despite India resting some of their core players. The Indian young guns will be desperate to make an impression and Bangladesh will be striving to bounce back after their disappointing Sri Lanka tour."
Jayawardene expressed his concern over lack of international experience in Sri Lanka's bowling attack. “Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep and Dushmantha Chameera are all inexperienced in this format. It’s going to be a real test of their skills and I am looking forward to seeing how they perform at critical high-pressure moments when it is very tough for the fast bowlers. The absence of Lasith [Malinga], in particular, places extra pressure on the fast bowlers,” he wrote.
Team India is going into the tournament with a fresh and young side. Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni have been rested for the series while wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant, who has just two T20 international appearances, and rookie paceman Mohammed Siraj, 23, are being given the opportunity to gain international experience. The first match of the tournament will see favorites India take on hosts Sri Lanka on Tuesday evening.
“It will be interesting to see what combination India go with today given the absence of most of their T20 stalwarts. The selectors will be excited about an opportunity to see some youngsters perform. Given a tough touring schedule and the IPL fast approaching, the decision to manage the workloads of some of their biggest stars is certainly understandable.”
Rohit Sharma (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan (vice-captain), KL Rahul, Suresh Raina, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik (wicket-keeper), Deepak Hooda, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Vijay Shankar, Shardul Thakur, Jaydev Unadkat, Mohammad Siraj and Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper).
Sri Lanka Squad
Dinesh Chandimal (Captain), Suranga Lakmal (vice-captain), Upul Tharanga, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Dasun Shanaka, Kusal Janith Perera, Thisara Perera, Jeevan Mendis, Isuru Udana, Akila Dananjaya, Amila Aponso, Nuwan Pradeep, Dushmantha Chameera, Dhananjaya De Silva.