Sri Lanka

  • Last Updated: September 19 2012, 11:48 BST

We take a look at Sri Lanka's squad, key players and hopes at the ICC World Twenty20.

Malinga: Star turn in T20 cricket

Group C Fixtures:September 18: Zimbabwe at Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium, Hambantota, 1500 BST
September 23: South Africa at Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium, Hambantota, 1100 BST

Overview: Having lost a semi-final and final already in the brief history of the World Twenty20, the pressure is on Sri Lanka to take their first title in the shortest form of the game on home turf.

They were, arguably, the first team to set their sights on the World Twenty20 earlier this year, when pre-series selection talk ahead of the Asia Cup and affairs against Pakistan and India revolved around finding adequate combinations ahead of this month's showpiece.

The Sri Lankan Premier League has also helped whittle the list down to 15 and the Lions haven't looked better placed to clinch another major ICC title in a long time.

Third only to South Africa and England in the T20I rankings, the combination of a talented, balanced squad and home advantage means they must be considered among the tournament favourites.

Strengths: The SLPL, which ended less than three weeks before the start of the WT20, really was a blessing. For one, it unearthed the talents of spinner Akila Dananjaya and Dilshan Munaweera. The timing of the event also means the bulk of Sri Lanka's squad are in full Twenty20 mode already, while others might require an extended period to get off the ground. This showed in their blowout warm-up win over the West Indies - one of the favourites to win the tourney. That victory, so resounding, sent a clear message to the other pretenders. Even without that assistance, the squad looks a fine one. Crucially, they have a wealth of all-rounders, an advantage captain Mahela Jayawardene has welcomed with open arms. Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera front the pack, while Jeevan Mendis and Shaminda Eranga make up the promising numbers. No other side, by a long shot, sport such depth in the seaming all-round ranks, while Tillakaratne Dilshan's skills are well known. And then you've got the specialists: Lasith Malinga and Ajantha Mendis with the ball; Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Dinesh Chandimal with the bat. It's a cracking combination.

Weaknesses: With the team so strong, the only weakness appears to be the possibility that the pressure of hosting the event proves too much for the side. But their run to the final of the 2011 World Cup suggests there is little to fear on this front. Nit-picking perhaps, but the squad is perhaps short of an explosive player capable of producing that game-changing, rope-clearing knock to settle a big game.

Six-hitter: Mahela Jayawardene. The Sri Lanka squad contains few power players, relying more on the improvisations of Tillakaratne Dilshan and the style of Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. Jayawardene, often used at the top of the order, has the best record of the three - boasting both the highest average and strike-rate - and has shown time and again that classical players can thrive even in this shortest of formats. Made a hundred and two half-centuries on his way to being the tournament's leading run-scorer in the 2010 renewal.

Strike bowler: Lasith Malinga. The Slinger's astonishing ability to deliver 90mph yorkers from an unorthdox action have made him one of the most in-demand players in Twenty20 cricket around the world. A wicket threat at the start and end of the innings, he also boasts a tricky, slingy bouncer and clever slower ball. Malinga's toe-crunching yorkers remain one of the finest sights in the game.

One to watch: Ajantha Mendis. Back from injury and showing some of his old form in the SLPL, Mendis has the opportunity to rekindle his former glory after 18 months in the relative wilderness. A successful T20 campaign on home soil will help the mystery spinner avoid being viewed as a flash-in-the-pan.

Squad: Mahela Jayawardene, Dinesh Chandimal, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Shaminda Eranga, Rangana Herath, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Ajantha Mendis, Jeevan Mendis, Dilshan Munaweera, Akila Dananjaya, Thisara Perera, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Lahiru Thirimanne.