Sri Lanka head coach Mickey Arthur said that his team will have to work very hard to qualify for the semi-finals of the ICC T20 World Cup 2021 in Oman and the United Arab Emirates.
Sri Lanka will first have to qualify in the qualifiers stage of the T20 World Cup in Oman, where they are paired with Ireland, Namibia and the Netherlands in Group A.
We can certainly be flexible in terms of how we set our team up: Mickey Arthur
Just on the eve of leaving with the entire squad for Oman, Arthur said that he is keeping his eye on the ongoing IPL 2021 in UAE and has prepared his strategies and tactics according to the conditions in the Gulf nation.
“I think the good thing with the squad we’ve got at the moment is that we can be flexible, we can certainly be flexible in terms of how we set our team up. Sri Lanka have to slug it out with seven other teams to get to the main competition, featuring the top-eight teams and four qualifiers,” Arthur was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.
“I’ve been watching the IPL very intently because we’re going to be playing on the same wickets [during the World Cup]. Looking at the conditions, we’ll probably go two seamers and two spinners, and then our all-rounders, and potentially another part-time spinner from our top-order batsman.
“But we are flexible enough – if the wickets dry out considerably – to go with three out-and-out spinners,” he added.
Chamika Karunaratne has emerged as one of the brightest ranks of all-rounders in the Sri Lankan team in their last few bilateral series and Arthur said that the Colombo-born player would be used as a floater in their batting line-up.
“He (Chamika Karunaratne) will have a floating role. What we’ve done over the last couple of training sessions and practice games is that we’ve given clear identification as to at what stage each player comes to the wicket, and what’s the skill set required for that particular stage of the game,” Arthur said.
“So he clearly fits in there. We want to get him probably overs 15-20, so that him, Dasun Shanaka and Wanindu Hasaranga sort of fix that berth for us,” he added.
Suspensions to top batters was a massive blow for us: Mickey Arthur
Sri Lanka’s first-choice top-order batsmen comprised of Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis and Niroshan Dickwella won’t be available for the team owing to their suspension for flouting COVID-19 norms during the England tour in June.
Arthur admitted that the suspension of those players is a big setback for the team in the T20 World Cup but he also pointed out that their absence created new opportunities for other players to make the cut in the team.
“That [the suspensions] was a massive blow for us. You’re talking about three of your top-five batters in the white-ball format there. That was a bitter pill to swallow for sure. You suddenly got back to square one in terms of your planning again,” Arthur said.
“It was really disappointing, but it led us to find the likes of Charith Asalanka, who has come on beautifully, Kamindu Mendis, who’s playing beautifully, Pathum Nissanka probably got another opportunity again. It’s allowed Dinesh Chandimal to come back into the mix. Bhanuka Rajapaksa to come back into the mix. So out of that adversity, it’s allowed opportunities to other players,” he added.
Sri Lanka will play their first match against Namibia on October 18 at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.