T20 World Cup – Bhanuka Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka has Player of the Tournament ambitions for the T20 World Cup

T20 World Cup - Bhanuka Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka has Player of the Tournament ambitions for the T20 World Cup

New Zealand, Bangladesh and Pakistan have just got done playing a tri-series, Australia and England have been in action against each other, and South Africa have recently wound down a series in India. Sri Lanka, though, have been somewhat idle since their men’s Asia Cup win more than a month ago.

The Asia Cup win, with India and Pakistan, among others, in the fray makes Sri Lanka dark horses for the T20 World Cup in Australia, but is there a thought that their preparations have been less thorough compared to the other top sides?

Not really, says middle-order batter Bhanuka Rajapaksa. “Before the Asia Cup, I think we had so much cricket going on, and the boys needed a rest, as well,” he said ahead of Sri Lanka’s first-round opener against Namibia, on Sunday.

Just before the Asia Cup, Sri Lanka had hosted Australia and Pakistan in quick succession.

“Coming into a big tournament like this, we need to be prepared. So, of course, we would have missed the opportunity of playing international cricket,” Rajapaksa said. “But sometimes that happens, with the coordination between the cricket boards. But we are quite happy with how we have prepared, and it’s just a matter of time until we face the first ball against Namibia.”

In Geelong, where Sri Lanka will play Namibia, UAE and Netherlands in the first round, the tracks are expected to be bouncy, and the weather cold.

“For me, I’m preparing how I want to become the Man of the Series in this World Cup. It will all come with the hard work that we’ve put in. Hopefully I’ll be able to achieve that”

Bhanuka Rajapaksa

“It’s much chillier than we expected it to be, but we can’t control things which we can’t control,” Rajapaksa said. “We are getting used to it, and hopefully it will not be too bad for us when out on the field.

“It’s just a bit difficult when you feel the ball – that’s about it. But other than that, I think the team is prepared to face it.”

Rajapaksa had been one of Sri Lanka’s best batters in the Asia Cup, producing perhaps their innings of the tournament, when he hit 71 not out off 45 balls in the final against Pakistan. He’s got big goals at the World Cup too.

“For me, I’m preparing how I want to become the Man of the Series in this World Cup,” he said. “It will all come with the hard work that we’ve put in. Hopefully I’ll be able to achieve that.”

Namibia have ‘a good feeling’ about them
The 2021 T20 World Cup was the Namibia men’s team’s first experience at a top-flight global cricket event. On that occasion, they qualified for the main tournament after a series of good results in the first round. They are in the first round again, and the team is more settled this time, batter Stephan Baard feels.

“I look at the team last year compared to the first World Cup we played, and there was a sense of nervousness then,” he said. “Of course, there is again, but there’s more of a sense of calm, which is a good thing. We know it’s going to be tough – all the games are tough in a tournament like this. But for us, it’s a good feeling to have. We just got to embrace it.”

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf

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