Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Jayawardene targets home comforts

Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene feels familiar conditions and a passionate home crowd could hand his team the edge in the World Twenty20.

The tournament heads to Sri Lanka in 2012, with the hosts chasing their first T20 success and the sports betting puts them as one of the favourites. Sri Lanka reached the final in England in 2009 but fell to a Shahid Afridi-inspired Pakistan.

The eight-wicket loss at Lord's was one of a series of heartbreaking defeats in high-profile tournaments, with Sri Lanka having lost a 50-over World Cup  semi-final in 2007 and the final in 2011.

Sri Lanka open this year's T20 competition against Zimbabwe on September 18 and Jayawardene was quoted in the latest sport news reports stressing that he is confident his side will flourish on home soil.

"Obviously we have a slight advantage in little bit of the conditions as well as the crowd being behind us. We'll definitely enjoy some fanatic fans behind us," he said.

Jayawardene has been boosted by the return of prolific batsman Kumar Sangakkara and seam bowler Nuwan Kulasekara from injury.

"Kumar is getting along well. I think he's been batting day and night getting extra net sessions (as) he has lost a few in the past few weeks. Kumar is like that," Jayawardene said.

"Nuwan has been bowling 80 to 90 per cent in the last week or so. Next week we'll push him a bit more with the fielding and all that. He should be OK with his groin injury."

Sri Lanka included two uncapped players in their 15-man squad, with 18-year-old off-spinner Akila Dhananjaya a surprise selection.

"He is a work in progress. We were also surprised the way he bowled in SLPL (Sri Lanka Premier League)," Jayawardene said.

"He showed a lot of maturity for a guy who has not played any first-class cricket, just played school cricket. I am sure he can handle himself in this league."

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