Kandy: Sri Lanka skipper Dasun Shanaka said on Wednesday the defending champions will challenge every team in the Asia Cup despite injuries to several key players.
Sri Lanka, co-hosting the tournament with Pakistan, face Bangladesh on Thursday after injuries forced them to drop two key players at the last minute.
They won the tournament in the T20 format last year but it reverts to the ODI format as a prelude to the 50-over World Cup in India, which starts on October 5.
“We are playing in our backyard, so have the home advantage,” Shanaka told reporters in Pallekele.
“There are a few players not participating due to injury but still I think we have got a pretty good side who can challenge all the teams.”
Leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga and fast-bowler Dushmantha Chameera will sit out the tournament after being named in the original 15-member squad but Shanaka said his team remained confident.
“There is no pressure at all,” he said.
Sri Lanka were underdogs at the previous Asia Cup in Dubai and were expected to bow out after losing their opening match to Afghanistan.
Interest this year remains focused on the rivalry between India and Pakistan, with potential for Asian cricket’s two giants to face each other three times before the World Cup.
Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan was unfazed by the India-Pakistan hype.
“They are the favourites, so people will talk about them more,” Shakib said.
“But having said that, Sri Lanka have won the Asia Cup plenty of times, so they are one of the favourites.”
Bangladesh have made the Asia Cup final three times but are still searching for their first trophy.
Emotions have often hampered Bangladesh’s performance, which Shakib acknowledged was the case in Dubai last year.
“Emotion-wise we have to play the game and see where we are at this moment,” he said.
“I think the dressing room is calmer and that is a good thing.”
Star all-rounder Shakib said a good performance would raise their expectations ahead of the World Cup.
“Asia Cup is not a small tournament, it has history, it has some big games,” he said.
“We are taking this tournament seriously. If we do well here it will give us confidence building up to the World Cup.”