Former explosive batsman Sanath Jayasuriya believes India, Pakistan or Sri Lanka have the best chance of winning this year's Twenty20 World Cup, starting from September 18.
Jayasuriya believes the spin friendly conditions in the sub continent would suit these three teams, and added India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, which is also the host nation, boast of good T20 teams.
"It's a tough tournament to predict as there are several teams who if they find their rhythm and get their tactics right could ultimately win the competition," Jayasuriya said in an exclusive interview with Pakpassion.net.
Speaking exclusively to PakPassion.net Sanath Jayasuriya spoke about his experience of the 1996 world cup and believes that whilst the expectations of Sri Lankan supporters may seem unreasonably high this time around, they do possess the firepower necessary to win the World Cup in 2012.
“Winning the world cup in 1996 was a huge achievement for my team mates and I. Not many people gave us a chance to win that tournament really. Of course we had self belief and confidence but we never thought we would win the world cup. Also, not many outside the Sri Lankan camp expected us to win the trophy so the pressure was not as intense as it is for the current squad. The pressure and expectations grew as the 1996 tournament went on and I’m certain it will be the same in 2012 for Mahela (Jayawardene) and his squad.”
“As a team we really developed during the 1996 world cup and our plans and methods really came together in that competition. It was wonderful to be part of such a historic occasion for Sri Lankan cricket and I hope we will see a repeat performance in the upcoming tournament.”
Jayasuriya feels that playing at home will bring added pressure to the current crop of Sri Lankan players but urged Mahela Jayawardene and his team to rise to the challenge ahead of them at the World T20 and to fully utilise home advantage.
“There is no doubt that playing at home brings additional pressure and more expectations, particularly as Sri Lanka are amongst the favourites in the World T20. But at the same time, the Sri Lankan players will enjoy playing in their home conditions, playing in front of their own fans who always give them great support. There’s no doubt that any cricketer would rather play in their home conditions than overseas particularly when it comes to a major tournament like the World T20. There is no better feeling than performing well in front of your countrymen and I expect Mahela Jayawardene and his team to not succumb to the pressure, rise to the challenge and utilise the home advantage. I’m sure we will see a good display from the Sri Lankans at the World T20.”
Jayasuriya who featured in 31 T20 internationals feels that Sri Lanka’s main rivals to the World T20 crown will come from Asia in the form of India and Pakistan, whilst from outside Asia, South Africa cannot be written off.
“It’s a tough tournament to predict as there are several teams who if they find their rhythm and get their tactics right could ultimately win the competition. Any team that can put 160 runs up on the board in this tournament is going to be tough to beat in any conditions. The pressure to chase a score of 160 plus could be too much for some of the teams” stated Jayasuriya.
“The conditions are ideally suited for the Asian teams and expect them to excel. I expect the winner of the World T20 to come from Sri Lanka, India or Pakistan who are all very good T20 sides and will be tough to beat particularly if they get runs on the board. It’s important that the Asian sides make full use of the conditions and if looking at the sides from outside Asia I think South Africa is the best out of those teams. They are in good form, confident and have a number of match winners in their squad.”
Jayasuriya further added “I’m delighted that such a prestigious tournament is being held in Sri Lanka and I hope that the tournament is a successful one and we see some fabulous cricket during the course of the competition.”
The World T20 starts on Tuesday when hosts Sri Lanka take on Zimbabwe at Hambantota.