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Colombo: Hosts Sri Lanka will expect to make a brisk start to the World Twenty20 on Tuesday as they open the country’s biggest tournament since independence 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 again last year. They were World Twenty20 runners-up in 2009 and went out in the semi-finals in 2010.
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.
Along with newly crowned cricketer of the year Kumar Sangakkara, Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan will expect to 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.
-Be ready for a stiff breeze in Hambantota, swing and seam in Pallekele and a good batting surface at the Premadasa (stadium) in Colombo,- batsman-wicketkeeper Sangakkara said.
-Each venue will have a different challenge and sides will have to adjust accordingly.- In an open field, at least half of the teams will consider themselves strong contenders to lift the trophy in Colombo on October 7 — and the others will be encouraged by the tournament’s reputation for surprises. —