T20 World Cup: Shanaka's playoff dreams hinge on Jayawardene's acumen and team's youth

Still in the throes of a tricky transition, the Sri Lanka skipper is banking on consultant Mahela Jayawardene's tactical brilliance and the team's youthful exuberance to make the playoffs.

FILE PHOTO: Shanaka conceded that the team's performance over the last two years was not up to the mark but has big expectations from his young side.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Sri Lanka cricket captain Dasun Shanaka is banking on former skipper Mahela Jayawardene's tactical brilliance and the team's youthful exuberance to make the playoffs of the Twenty20 World Cup, the all-rounder said on Saturday.

The 2014 champion finds itself jostling with the game's minnows in the preliminary rounds and needs a top-two finish in Group A to make the Super 12 stage.

Sri Lanka has roped in Jayawardene as a consultant for the preliminary round, hoping to benefit from the experience of a coach who has overseen Mumbai Indians' three successful Indian Premier League (IPL) campaigns.

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"He's been amazing over the years," Shanaka told a media session ahead of their first match against Namibia on Monday. "Tactically, he is the best in the business. He's been a real asset for all of us."

Sri Lanka is still in the throes of a tricky transition following the retirements of stalwarts like Kumar Sangakkara and Jayawardene. Shanaka conceded its performance, especially over the last two years, was not "up to the mark" but has big expectations from his young side.

"The strength of our squad is very good...We got that potential to go to the Super 12 and make the playoffs. I don't feel any pressure, I feel confident."

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Along with Wanindu Hasaranga, currently the second-ranked bowler in Twenty20 cricket, fellow spinner Maheesh Theekshana would trouble the batters, warned Shanaka.

"He's been amazing over the last few years," he said of Hasaranga.

"He is very hard to pick because he's coming from a low angle. With Wanindu, we got Maheesh Theekshana as well... going forward, they will do a good job for the team."

Shanaka said winning the 2014 title was "one of the greatest moments" in Sri Lanka's cricketing history.

"I feel the youngsters have got the same potentials. The only thing they lack is experience. If they perform to their strength, we can go a long away in this tournament."

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