The islanders also recall Malinga as they gear up to face challenges from Pakistan, South Africa and defending champs India

Sri Lanka seems like slowly getting there in terms of preparations for ICC Champions Trophy as Sri Lanka Cricket announced a strong 15-member squad early this week.
Chairman of Selectors Sanath Jayasuriya has admitted that he was involved in the toughest selection meeting ever to pick the national squad which sees the return of skipper Angelo Mathews. Among other good news is that the selectors have named pace bowler Lasith Malinga in the squad for the eight nation tournament which is expected to begin in England on June 1 with the Englishmen taking on Bangladesh in the curtain raiser to the tournament.

There have been pressing needs to have a solid off spinner in the squad, but Jayasuriya has played down such suggestions stating that conditions in England in June don’t favour spin.

Sri Lanka has named Lakshan Sandaken, Seekkuge Prasanna and Asela Guneratne as their spinners.

But the main task will be upon the batsmen given that the shorter version of the game is mostly about slogging with the bat. Analysts have pointed out the need to have batting running down till number 8 or 9. There have been occasions in the present where average teams have chased down scores like 260 with the help of late order batsmen.
Sri Lanka faces the tough challenge of playing alongside defending champions India, South Africa and Pakistan, a team which is shaping up well.

India has kept others in Group B uneasy by delaying the naming of their squad. The news from India states that the delay is due to a revenue share war between India and the ICC. India is one of the favoured teams to take home the trophy and play their opener against Pakistan on June 4. This match is going to be thriller given the fact that there is an old saying which Pakistan is forced to remember ‘lose the world cup final but don’t lose to India’.

The defending champions are led by Virat Kholi and have the services of stars like Sharma, Dhawan, Rahane, Yuvraj, Dhoni and Jadeja to boost their chances. The only little bad news for them is that K.L Rahul is out of the team due to a shoulder injury for which an operation has been done.

South Africans are another side which can lift the trophy. The Proteas have shown in past tournaments how well they can start. However, their fault lies in the knockout stages where their weaknesses have been exposed. A.B de Villiers leads a formidable side which did well in New Zealand a few months ago to win the series. They seem to have got their combination correct hence there are no significant changes to the squad.

Carrying South Africa’s chances are Phehlukwago, Pretorius, Chris Morris, Tahir, Maharaj and Morkel, players who have shown consistency.

Pakistan is a feared side in the tournament and completes the line-up of teams in Group B. The Pakistanis are led by Sarfraz Ahmed and will have the services of promising players like Azah Ali, Umar Akmal, Ahmed Shehzad, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Mohammed Amir and Junaid Khan and Hasan Ali in their line-up.

In Group A, host England battle it out with other competitors like Bangladesh, New Zealand and Australia. A noticeable absentee in the tournament is West Indies which lost its place in the line-up to Bangladesh.

The Sri Lanka squad-Angelo Mathews – Captain, Upul Tharanga (Vice Captain), Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Janith Perera, Kusal Mendis, Chamara Kapugedera, Asela Gunaratne, Dinesh Chandimal, Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Nuwan Kulasekera, Thisara Perera, Lakshan Sandakan and Seekkuge Prasanna. Stanbyes are Dilruwan Perera and Dhanushka Gunathilaka.

Selection Commitee Chairman Sanath Jayasuriya (second from right) briefs the media about  Sri Lanka’s plans for the ICC Champions Trophy at a press conference at SLC
Selection Commitee Chairman Sanath Jayasuriya (second from right) briefs the media about Sri Lanka’s plans for the ICC Champions Trophy at a press conference at SLC