Sri Lanka out for fast start at World T20


Hosts Sri Lanka will hope to make a brisk start to the World Twenty20 Tuesday as they open the country’s biggest ever sports event with high hopes of claiming a second global title.
In Hambantota, the home town of President Mahinda Rajapakse, Sri Lanka should encounter few problems against minnows Zimbabwe as they raise the curtain on Twenty20 cricket’s three-week, 12-nation, world championship.
Sri Lanka have yet to emulate their 50-over World Cup victory in 1996, despite reaching the final in 2007 and again last year. They were World Twenty20 runners-up in 2009 and went out in the semi-finals in 2010.
The tropical “Teardrop Island”, torn by a 37-year ethnic conflict until hostilities were declared over in 2009, has never held a tournament on this scale, although it was a co-host of the 1996 and 2011 World Cups.
Despite a fast and furious format which makes predictions unwise, Mahela Jayawardene’s team start as slight tournament favourites because of home advantage and because they are known as a team for the big occasion.
“We are one of the favourites but we are part of the pack that, you know, if we get into a good momentum we could go all the way,” Jayawardene said.
“Sri Lanka is a cricket-crazy country and the expectations would be high. People would back us so we need to enjoy that,” he added. Along with newly crowned cricketer of the year Kumar Sangakkara, Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan will do damage with the bat, while Sri Lanka can also call on talented all-rounders Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera. Fast bowler Lasith Malinga and unorthodox spinner Ajantha Mendis complete a formidable line-up which will also be familiar with the varied conditions in the capital Colombo, steamy hill town Pallekele and coastal Hambantota.