'We need to believe in ourselves'

'We need to believe in ourselves'

Newly appointed skipper Dilshan confident despite paceman Malingas absence

“The early part of the summer will be tough and England have just won the Ashes,” Dilshan told newsmen here on Wednesday evening, in his first interaction as the national captain. “But if we believe in ourselves and remain committed, then the results will follow. I have been given a good team. With that team, I want to do well in the Test and one-day series.

“We have done well in recent times and we want to continue in the same manner,” said the dashing opener.

“I have two former captains in the team and I am so fortunate. I want to take Sri Lankan Cricket forward. I would like to take up challenges and this is a good challenge. It’s a matter of great pride to become the captain of the side. I have worked hard to get to this stage and I am pleased with what I have done. We reached the World Cup final and we need to maintain the same intensity levels to achieve success in England.”

The Sri Lankan selectors named a 16-man squad for the Test series, without paceman Lasith Malinga and injured all-rounder Angelo Mathews. Minus Malinga, the Sri Lankans have a fairly inexperienced bowling attack with only the inconsistent Dilhara Fernando as the leader of the pack. “Dilhara is the only experienced bowler,” Dilshan conceded.

“But I guess the other blokes have got a good opportunity. If they don’t play, they will not get opportunities. I hope they make the most out of the opportunity. I have full confidence in the side that I have been given.

“Nuwan Pradeep is young and bowls at 140kmph. He’s in the same franchise like me in the IPL,” added the Royal Challenges Bangalore batsman. The captaincy, Dilshan insisted, would not bring about a change in his aggressive approach. “I am not going to change my playing style,” he stressed. “I have got to this stage due to the style I have adopted, and I am going to continue with the same style.”

Welcoming former skipper Marvan Atapattu’s appointment as the batting coach, he went on, “He’s been one of Sri Lanka’s best batsmen. He’s done extremely well. Having him is a big advantage. He’s not only one of the batting greats, but a former captain too and I am sure he will have a lot to offer.”

There will be no official vice-captain for Dilshan and the selectors have clarified that former captain Kumar Sangakkara would act as cover for Dilshan during his forced absences, if any, from the field. The first Test against England begins in Cardiff on May 26.

The squad: Tillakaratne Dilshan (capt), Tharanga Paranavithana, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Thilan Samaraweera, Dinesh Chandimal, Prasanna Jayawardene, Thissara Perera, Suraj Randiv, Ajantha Mendis, Rangana Herath, Dilhara Fernando, Chanaka Welegedara, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep.

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