One more win will move Sri Lanka closer to a place in the final of the DP World Asia Cup. Having beaten Afghanistan in their first Super 4 game, Sri Lanka have been plotting to upstage India when the teams square off at the Dubai International Stadium on Tuesday (September 6).
Captain Dasun Shanaka said the Sri Lankan approach would continue to remain positive, and he is confident that the batting strength can power them to victory. “Our strategy always is around batting. If our batsmen come good, we have a good chance [of winning]. If we have good partnerships at the top of the order, we will be in the game,” he said at a press conference on the eve of the match.
Batting did carry the islanders to victories over Bangladesh in the crunch game in the preliminaries and the first Super 4 tie with Afghanistan. All batsmen went hard at the bowling, and some of them scored thirties.
Will the misfiring Asalanka get the axe?
Facing stiff targets, Sri Lanka had to mount spirited chases. Will Sri Lanka persist with the pattern of play? “The plans depend on the day. And the batting order can change according to the situation,” Shanaka said.
Most batsmen, except stalwart Charith Asalanka, contributed in good measure. Will the struggling Asalanka make way for Dhananjaya de Silva? “There might be a possibility. It’s not finalised yet. The selectors are still discussing, and there might be a chance [for Dhananjaya] to play,” Shanaka said.
The loss to Pakistan has put India under pressure to win the remaining games. The Sri Lankan captain doesn’t think the pressure could make India vulnerable.
Is spin a problem for Indian batsmen?
“I think they [India] had a very good game last night [on Sunday]. There is nothing called pressure for them as they are playing good cricket. They will be well prepared for tomorrow’s game,” he said.
Facing a full-strength Indian team in Dubai, unlike the recent games in Sri Lanka, does not seem to faze Shanaka. Playing against any international team is a challenge, he said, adding that the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, Harshad Patel and Ravindra Jadeja will not hurt the Indian performance. “These guys [Indian players] have played IPL [Indian Premier League] and gained plenty of experience. So you can’t underestimate them. They have good bowling,” the Sri Lankan skipper added.
The Indian batsmen’s struggle against Pakistani spinners came under scrutiny, but Shanaka disagreed, saying that Indians are good players of spin. “These [Wanindu Hasaranga and Maheesh Theekshana] are our main spinners, whatever the opposition. They didn’t bowl well against Bangladesh. It depends on the day. I hope they will bowl well in the game [against India],” he said.
Although Sri Lanka banks heavily on their batting, Shanaka says, the bowlers need to do well in tomorrow’s game since India’s batting has been the key to their success.
“They [India and Pakistan] have better players. So the strategy will be different. We have a different plan to execute tomorrow,” Shanaka said.
It looks like Sri Lanka have some surprises in store.