Sri Lanka national cricket team for the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 will depart to England on Thursday morning carrying the hopes of 20 million people. The official team photograph and final press conference was held on Wednesday evening at Movenpick Hotel in Colombo.
“I’ve been given the best possible team after a grueling round of evaluations and selections, and after the last 15 days working together so intensely, I am more than confident that we are as ready as we can be. We just have to get out there and play our game now. The bonus week in the UK and the two added practice games will give us that edge we need. “ Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews said.
The squad had a fruitful high-intensity training camp in the newly-opened Centre of Excellence in Kandy under Sri Lanka’s battery of expert coaches led by Graham Ford. Lasith Malinga who is currently playing for Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League will join the squad in England after his commitment is over in India.
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“Fortunately, we play two of our pool games at The Oval and from what I’ve seen, it has been particularly a dry start to the summer, scores have been very high so that should all suit us. I’m not quite actually sure whether we want it to spin too much because Imran Tahir is a real factor for South Africa and obviously Ashwin for India. I think we are looking for good ODI pitches in this tournament.” Ford mentioned about the surfaces which are to be expected in England.
Sri Lanka will commence the tour on 21st and 23rd May when they play two practice games against Scotland and then take on Australia (26th May) and New Zealand (30th May) in the official ICC Champions Trophy warm-up games.
“I’m now 100% fit having successfully recovered from my finger injury. The training camp in Kandy really helped us to gel as a unit and to focus on the tournament. Each game will be equally important because we cannot afford to make a mistake. After playing South Africa recently in their own conditions, we very well know their strengths and weaknesses so our first target is to beat them.” Wicket-keeper batsman Niroshan Dickwella who missed out on the ODIs and T20’s against Bangladesh said.
Sri Lanka will battle it out with world number-one ranked, South Africa, defending champions India and unpredictable Pakistan in group B during this eight-nation tournament. In the history of ICC Champions Trophy, Sri Lanka shared the trophy in 2002 with India after heavy rains interrupted both the finals in Colombo.
“This tournament will be a great test for me and also for us as a team. We trained hard in the last couple of weeks and I think we are ready for this monumental challenge. Personally, I have performed well in England in the past. From all the pitches in the world, the English surfaces are really to bat on and make big knocks, so it will surely be a cracking tournament.” Sri Lanka vice-captain Upul Tharanga shared his views.
Sri Lanka Contingent
Angelo Mathews (Captain), Upul Tharanga (Vice-Captain), Niroshan Dickwella, Dinesh Chandimal, Lasith Malinga, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Janith Perera, Asela Gunarathne, Chamara Kapugedara, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Kulasekara, Thisara Perera, Seekkuge Prasanna, Lakshan Sandakan, Nuwan Pradeep, Asanka Gurusinha – Team Manager, Ranjith Fernando – Tour Manager, Graham Ford – Head Coach, Allan Donald – Consultant Fast Bowling Coach, Nic Pothus – Fielding Coach, Nick Lee – Trainer, Ajantha Wattegama – Physiotherapist, Sriram Somayajula – Analyst, Rohan Priyadharshana – Masseur.
Sri Lanka’s fixtures in ICC Champions Trophy 2017
Sri Lanka vs South Africa – 3rd June – The Oval, London
Sri Lanka vs India – 8th June – The Oval, London.
Sri Lanka vs Pakistan – 12th June – Cardiff Wales Stadium, Cardiff.