Champions Trophy preview: Sri Lanka

Angelo Mathews' leads an inexperienced side looking to once again punch above their weight at a major tournament

The squad: Angelo Mathews (c), Upul Tharanga (vc), Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Chamara Kapugedera, Asela Gunaratne, Dinesh Chandimal, Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Nuwan Kulasekera, Thisara Perera, Lakshan Sandakan and Seekkuge Prasanna

The fixtures: June 3 v South Africa, The Oval; June 8 v India, The Oval; June 12 v Pakistan, Cardiff

Best result: Joint-winners with India, 2002

The talking point: He’s back! Lasith Malinga is set to play his first ODI since November 2015 when he takes the new ball for Sri Lanka in their opening match. The 33-year-old returned to international cricket in February and has competed in the Indian Premier League, but so far he’s only been required to bowl a maximum of four overs in 2017. Sri Lanka need their veteran spearhead, who has taken 291 wickets in 191 ODIs since debuting in 2004. At his best there is perhaps no bowler in the world with a more deceptive and lethal slower ball than Malinga.  

Malinga hat-trick not enough for Sri Lanka

The one to watch: Kusal Mendis is Sri Lanka’s in-form batsman. The right-hander was the leading run-scorer in the three-match ODI series against Bangladesh in March-April, where he scored his maiden ODI century in Dambulla. At only 22, Mendis is one of the fine young batsmen in the Champions Trophy and boasts playing experience at the three venues of the tournament having toured the British Isles 12 months ago. Mendis will likely bat at first-drop, and his battle against the new ball will test his technique and mental toughness.  

Mendis makes Bangladesh pay for first-ball reprieve

The pressure is on: He’s been out of action for a while now, but captain Angelo Mathews will skipper Sri Lanka. A hamstring injury kept the powerful allrounder out of ODI series against Bangladesh and South Africa, but is fit and expected to bowl in the Champions Trophy. At 29, Mathews has played 180 ODIs but only has one century to his name, a staggering statistic considering his immense talent with the bat. Sri Lanka will lean heavily on his experience, his runs and, should conditions suit, his wickets. 

Mike Hussey’s verdict: You wouldn’t say they’re one of the favourites because they’ve got a quite a few young players in their squad. But that youthful exuberance can be a real weapon as well, playing with no fear and they can just go for it. That can be hard to stop, especially if they get their confidence up and are playing well. Having the experience of Malinga, who’s battled with injury over the last year or two, the more he plays the better he’ll get again. Angelo Mathews is a very good cricketer as well. They have got some good experienced players there and some really exciting youth. They beat Australia in Australia in the three-T20 series earlier this year when nobody gave them a chance and if their young guns fire then who knows what will happen.

Champions Trophy 2017 Guide

Squads: Every Champions Trophy squad named so far

Group A: Australia, New Zealand, England, Bangladesh.

Group B: India, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Pakistan.


Warm-up matches

26 May – Australia v Sri Lanka, The Oval

27 May – Bangladesh v Pakistan, Edgbaston

28 May – India v New Zealand, The Oval

29 May – Australia v Pakistan, Edgbaston

30 May – New Zealand v Sri Lanka, Edgbaston

30 May – Bangladesh vs India, The Oval


1 June – England v Bangladesh, The Oval (Day)

2 June – Australia v New Zealand, Edgbaston (D)

3 June – Sri Lanka v South Africa, The Oval (D)

4 June – India v Pakistan, Edgbaston (D)

5 June – Australia v Bangladesh, The Oval (D/N)

6 June – England v New Zealand, Cardiff (D)

7 June – Pakistan v South Africa, Edgbaston (D/N)

8 June – India v Sri Lanka, The Oval (D)

9 June – New Zealand v Bangladesh, Cardiff (D)

10 June – England v Australia, Edgbaston (D)

11 June – India v South Africa, The Oval (D)

12 June – Sri Lanka v Pakistan, Cardiff (D)

14 June – First semi-final (A1 v B2), Cardiff (D)

15 June – Second semi-final (A2 v B1), Edgbaston (D)

18 June – Final, The Oval (D)

19 June – Reserve day (D)

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