Sri Lanka in search of riches in oil rich Dubai
BY TREVINE RODRIGO IN MELBOURNE
Sri Lanka travel to the oil rich Emirates searching for their worth against Asia’s best and in Dubai lies the answers about their recent success and where it sits outside of their haven on home turf advantage.
Beating South Africa in the Tests and T20 while conceding the one dayers has shown that the Lankans have lifted a few notches after repeated drubbings from powerhouses India and Pakistan.
But against Asia’s best there is no respite for the maturing Lankans who will have to be on the money to overcome fast emerging and highly talented Bangladesh and Afghanistan who are certainly no easy beats to anyone in world cricket.
With the Asian region stepping up and the format reverting to the 50-over format once more, the Sri Lankans who last won the Asia Cup under this format will reflect on the composition of the team sans the stars who took the honours for them in 2010 and wonder if they have enough fight and consistency to topple their more fancied opponents.
Thankfully they have been spared the embarrassment of playing India and Pakistan in their group considerably increasing their chances of making the top four while the organizers plot a marketing bonanza for themselves by pitting the Indians and Pakistanis in the same group.
For the Sri Lankans it will be an acid test against the high riding Indians and Pakistanis if they are pitted against them. And in many ways, it will be a searching experience for them to find out how much they have developed as a team since their last forgettable meetings.
The return of suspended former skipper Dinesh Chandimal will add needed experience to the Sri Lankan batting lineup and re-appointed Captain Angelo Matthews will be hoping that the young brigade will fire consistently if they are to set up match winning totals.
Kusal Mendis in particular need to find some form after a quiet series against South Africa and the rest of the batting will rest on the shoulders of skipper Matthews, Dhananjaya De Silva,DanushkaGunathilaka,ThisaraPerera, and Dasun Shanaka and hard hitting Kusal Perera.
Lasith Malinga who has been overlooked for a period of time until he met the expectations of the selectors is a welcome addition to the bowling attack and his role will be to support currently in-form Suranga Lakmal, Akila Dhananjaya and Dilruwan Perera giving some bite to a formerly toothless attack which went for many against the Indians and Pakistanis.
The current lineup under the watchful eye of coach Chandika Hathurusinghe will be a force to be reckoned with as the Lankans shift into gear against the feisty Bangladeshis in their opening encounter in what has now developed into a fierce rivalry after some spiteful recent encounters. Hathurusinghe took the Bangladesh team to a respectable level before departing to his home country after a dispute with the administration in that country.
India and Pakistan are hot favourites to wrest this year’s tournament.