MJ joins SL practices
By Anjana Kaluarachchi
Former Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene (MJ) was seen in Sri Lanka colours for the first time in six years when he joined the Sri Lanka team training session on Monday. Jayawardene who was coaching Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League, joined up with the Sri Lanka team early for his mentoring role after Mumbai failed to advance in the IPL.
The team had their first practice session at Abu Dhabi stadium on Monday as they geared up for today’s warm-up fixture against Bangladesh. They will then play Papua New Guinea on Thursday 14th in the next warm-up encounter.
Sri Lanka, favourites on paper to progress as top seeds from Group A, have been inextricably intertwined with the T20 World Cup ever since the first one in 2007, finishing runners-up in 2009 and 2012 before finally lifting the trophy with victory over India in the 2014 final.
Outside the top eight of the T20I Team Rankings at the cut-off date and currently ranked 10th, their form going into the 2021 edition has been up and down to say the least. A landmark 2-1 series win over India in July this year was also bookended by a 3-0 series whitewash to England in England and the Proteas in their own backyard.
But no team has won more T20 World Cup games than Sri Lanka and their experience - along with a talented squad - make them prime candidates to reach the Super 12 stage. Captained by Dasun Shanaka, players like Kusal Perera, Avishka Fernando, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dushmantha Chameera and Maheesh Theekshana are all potential match-winners for Sri Lanka on their day.
They will open their campaign against debutants Namibia on 18 October in Abu Dhabi before a potentially decisive meeting two days later with Ireland, ranked two places lower in 12th. Sri Lanka conclude their Group A fixtures on 22 October with a clash in Sharjah against the Netherlands, who they defeated by nine wickets en route to claiming the 2014 title.