MUMBAI (Reuters) - Sri Lanka and Pakistan must overcome batting inconsistency if they are to leave India with a second World Twenty20 title, with both sides coming into the tournament on the back of uninspiring performances at the Asia Cup.
Defending World Twenty20 champions Sri Lanka, who were also runners-up in 2009 and 2012, bid adieu to batting stalwarts Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara from the format after their 2014 triumph and have yet to fill the void.
They come into the tournament following series defeats in New Zealand and India and a poor showing at the Asia Cup, where they lost to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh while only beating United Arab Emirates.
The fitness of Lasith Malinga will have a major bearing on Sri Lanka’s chances.
The pace bowler gave up the captaincy due to injury problems this week, handing over the mantle to test and one-day skipper Angelo Mathews.
All-rounder Mathews will hope his side can find form when it matters but addressing his batting unit’s inconsistency is a priority.
The team have failed to cross the 130-run mark, considered a modest total in the T20 format, on four occasions in their last six games and were all out for 82 in the second of the three-match series in India.
Pakistan, the 2009 champions, have what could be the best fast bowling attack in the tournament but they too have been hampered by inconsistency at the crease.
The left-arm pace unit of Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Irfan and Wahab Riaz are capable of wreaking havoc against any side but their batting has let them down.
Pakistan lost at least two wickets in the first four overs in three out of four matches in the Asia Cup and their wobbly top order has put enormous pressure on the middle and lower order batsmen to push them to competitive totals.
Capable of beating the best in the world but maddeningly unpredictable, Pakistan lost T20 series against England and New Zealand before falling to arch-rivals India and Bangladesh in the Asia Cup.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Shaharyar Khan slammed the team’s performance at the Asia Cup but admitted it was too late to make sweeping changes ahead of the World Twenty20.
Selectors have already made changes to the original squad twice in the hope of addressing the problems and will hope Shahid Afridi’s men will come good in India.
Afridi, who is able to win matches with his bowling and power-hitting, will be concerned about his own form with the bat, with a high score of eight in his last four innings.
Bangladesh’s limited-overs form has been improving since the 50-over World Cup last year but the test-playing nation must play qualifiers just to reach the Super 10 stage.
They will hope to use their run to the Asia Cup final on home soil as a platform to deliver a good performance in India and prove they belong with the elite.
Editing by Greg Stutchbury