Russell Arnold has pipped Sri Lanka as the dark horses for the T20 World Cup in Australia, warning other teams to exercise caution when they face the Lions. He cited the team's performance at the Asia Cup as an example of their potential and how they can achieve glory without taking the spotlight.
The ICC World T20 2022 is now less than a fortnight away, with the group stages scheduled to begin on October 16 Down Under. Sri Lanka have been placed alongside the Netherlands, Namibia and the United Arab Emirates in Group A and the Lions will definitely be eyeing a spot in the Super 12s stage. In the previous edition as well, they had to battle in the qualifiers against the same set of teams with only Ireland replacing the UAE, and had managed to ease into the next stage with a perfect record. In fact, they even tallied wins against West Indies and Bangladesh but fell significantly short of a semi-final spot.
This time around, however, the side has looked much more threatening in the build-up to the marquee event, announcing their potential to the world in the Asia Cup last month. Having lost to Afghanistan in the opening fixture, the islanders went on a hot streak winning the next five games on the trot. First, they eliminated Bangladesh in the group stage before avenging the loss to Afghanistan in the Super Fours. India and Pakistan fell victim next and the Men in Green eventually lost again in the final, handing Sri Lanka their sixth continental title.
Sri Lankan legend Russell Arnold is of the opinion that his country is capable of pulling off crucial upsets in the world tournament, considering their quality of cricket in recent times.
"The fact that they (Sri Lanka) won the Asia Cup and, over the last two or three months, they have played some amazing cricket. A lot of people have loved the type of cricket they have been playing," he was quoted saying by India Today.
In Maheesh Theekshana and Wanindu Hasaranga Sri Lanka hold two trump cards that will be crucial to their success in the tournament.
"So they will be a handful for anyone, and if they (Sri Lanka's opponents) are not careful, they (Sri Lanka) will trip (up) one of the more-fancied oppositions. I think, quietly, there is a good chance that they can do that - be silent about it (go under the radar)," Arnold added.
The Lions begin their campaign against Namibia at the Simonds Stadium in Victoria on October 16.