'Every team needs to have close look at Sri Lanka,' says captain Shanaka

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SHARJAH: Sri Lanka start their T20 World Cup Super 12 campaign on Sunday (Oct 24) with skipper Dasun Shanaka insisting "every team has to look at us" after an impressive run through qualifying.

Despite a build-up dogged by controversy and indifferent form, the 2014 champions are suddenly being mentioned as potential title winners.

Their well-balanced side, boasting two express fast bowlers, a mystery spinner and a cross-section of reliable run-getters, stormed through the first round.

"It's a simple message. The boys have done well, and they have shown their skills, and they have shown what they really can do in this tournament," said Shanaka on Saturday.

"They have made their mark in this tournament already, so every team has to have a close look at them, so it's really good for us."

The performances back up his confidence.

They dismissed Namibia for 96, Ireland for 101 and then the Netherlands for just 44.

Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara have rattled batsmen with raw pace despite the sluggish wickets of the Gulf.

Spinner Maheesh Theekshana, the 21-year-old off-break bowler who only made his international debut, has already left batsmen bamboozled.

He goes into the second round with seven wickets to his name.

Meanwhile, Wanindu Hasaranga and Pathum Nissanka both hit half-centuries against Ireland to rescue their team from a perilous 8-3 at one stage.

It's a far cry from the team's build-up to the event.

Kusal Mendis, opener Danushka Gunathilaka and wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella were all banned for a year for breaching the team's coronavirus bubble in England in July.

Ranked 10 in the world, they arrived in the Gulf with just three wins and nine defeats in 12 T20 matches in 2021.

That included series whitewashes against England and South Africa.

"TAKES THE DEW"

Shanaka hailed the dressing room influence of former skipper and now team mentor Mahela Jayawardene.

Some media reports claimed that Jayawardene was to leave the team ahead of the Super 12s to return home to see his family.

Jayawardene said he had spent "135 days in quarantine and bubbles since June" but would still carry out his role with the squad by distance.

"It's a real good investment to the boys, mostly to the youngsters. They gained a lot of experience from him and a lot of advice," said Shanaka.

"It makes it easier for me as a captain, a...

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