Sri Lanka’s Thisara Perera (right) and Suranga Lakmal warm up during a training session at Dubai Sports City. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: It will be a clash of the Tigers versus the Lions in the opening match of the Unimoni Asia Cup at the Dubai International Stadium on Saturday.

Sri Lankan team, known as the Lions, will be looking forward to a winning start and so will be the Bangladesh ‘Tigers’.

Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews is confident that his team will deliver a winning start. “We have done our preparations. It is going to be a keen tussle,” he said, knowing well that in the last 20 months his team had only nine wins from their 37 matches. In the International Cricket Council (ICC) ranking Sri Lanka are eighth with 80 points, one position below Bangladesh who have 92 points.

It is the ranking as well as some impressive victories in recent years that gives Bangladesh the confidence of victory. Captain Mashrafe Mortaza strongly believes that opening match will set the trend. “If we can do well in the opening game we have a chance to progress further in the tournament,” he said.

Bangladesh carry with them the confidence of a 2-1 series win over West Indies in the Caribbean 2-1 recently. Their vice captain and star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan revealed that to get into the next round they will have to play at their best. “To get success we need to get the process right so we will be looking more into our process rather than on the trophy,” he said.

Bangladesh know that Sri Lanka have players suck as Upul Tharanga, Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Thisara Perera and Angelo Mathews who are all match winners. To match them Bangladesh has their opener Tamim Iqbal, who is in top form. Mustafizur Rahman has been their consistent bowler while Mohammad Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur Rahim are match winners.

Sri Lanka is upset over having lost Danushka Gunathilaka. Skipper Mathews, commenting over it, said: “Disappointing that Danushka had to go back. As Bangladesh are a challenge for us having played well in the last 18 months we need to overcome them and play well.”

Sri Lanka had also lost the services of their star player Dinesh Chandimal to injury while Akila Dananjaya will miss the first two matches on account of the birth of his child. “Disappointing to lose Chandi and then Danushka who was in good nick during the Domestic T-20 Tournament. But still we have the resources to beat any team,” added Mathews.

Mathews believes how his team will perform will also depend on how the wicket plays. “The mindset is to go and score as many runs as we can score. We need to assess the wicket first. Once we assess either we need to put up a good total on the board or if we are chasing we need to get there.”

Commenting on the wicket, Mathews said: “They say the dew will be a factor but we are not sure. This looks a good wicket. Could be bit slow. But we cannot say hundred per cent until we play on them and know. Ultimately we have to play well.”

Match start: 3.30pm

Venue: Dubai International Cricket Stadium

On TV: OSN Sport