Malinga’s return expected to boost Sri Lanka
Five-time Asia Cup winners Sri Lanka will look to defend the ODI format title in the Asia Cup 2018, that starts on September 15. A mixture of seniors and youngsters could give the Lankans another title.
Sri Lanka were the winners of 2014 ODI Asia Cup in Bangladesh when they defeated Pakistan in the final by five wickets. They failed to reach the finals in the T20I edition in 2016.
Sri Lanka have been going through rebuilding process since the retirement of stars Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardena and Tillakaratne Dilshan. However, they have Lasith Malinga back into the squad.
Malinga was neglected by Sri Lankan selectors since his last participation in an ODI against India previous year. He didn’t play the IPL too, rather acted as bowling mentor for Mumbai Indians. The return of Sri Lanka’s best bowler could boost them up.
Sri Lanka will be led by Angelo Mathews, who guided them to two wins in ODI series against South Africa at home. They have a good momentum with them after winning Test and T20I series over the Proteas recently.
Thisara Perera could be Sri Lanka’s trump card in Asia Cup. His all-round capability adds a lot of value to the team. Besides, veteran Upul Tharanga can provide goods if he clicks on. Dhananjaya de Silva and Dasun Shanaka will also be looked out for Sri Lanka’s success.
Sri Lanka will miss the services of Dinesh Chandimal in the tournament due to hairline fracture. Niroshan Dickwella, who was initially left out of squad, has been recalled. Akila Dananjaya will be missing at least the group stage as he awaits birth of his first child. This could turn out to be a huge blow for them considering Dananjaya’s ability to bowl mystery deliveries.
Chandika Hathurusingha’s men will face Bangladesh and Afghanistan in Group B. Both the matches will take place in three days time on September 15 and 17 in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Sri Lanka won an ODI tri-series in Bangladesh this year. They are yet to face Afghanistan in an ODI.
Sri Lanka squad: Angelo Mathews (captain), Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Upul Tharanga, Danushka Gunathilaka, Thisara Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Dhanajaya de Silva, Akila Dananjaya, Dilruwan Perera, Amila Aponso, Kasun Rajitha, Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera, Lasith Malinga and Niroshan Dickwella
Sri Lanka fixtures:
Group B- versus Bangladesh, Dubai, September 15
Group B- versus Afghanistan, Abu Dhabi, September 17