Sri Lankan cricketer Dhananjaya de Silva during a practice session at ICC Academy in Dubai on Wednesday. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Five-time champions Sri Lanka should their intent as they got straight down to work at the ICC Academy on Wednesday after arrival in the UAE for the Asia Cup. Dhananjaya De Silva, who is one of Sri Lanka’s top-order batsmen, feels that Sri Lanka, in Group B alongside Afghanistan and Bangladesh, have the team to win the tournament despite the strong challenge of their rivals.

Answering to a query from Gulf News on the Sri Lankan team composition, Dhananjaya said: “It is a big challenge. We have a very young team. Few of our senior guys are also there. We are looking forward to play our natural game.”

When asked how it would be to play in an Asia Cup without two of their star players — Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene — he said: “Sangakkara visited us and talked about his game and told us as to how to adapt to the situations. We as a bunch that have been together now for two years and so we have a good team now.”

Hailed as a technically correct batsman, Dhananjaya has scored four Test centuries but is yet to score a ton in One Day Internationals. When asked about his form, he said: “I got some runs in the past few series and I want to contribute in this series too.”

Dhananjaya is delighted with the return of their veteran pacer Lasith Malinga. “Malinga is our biggest strength in the bowling line-up. His presence give us 50 per cent chance to win matches.”

What is the secret to win matches in the Asia Cup? Dhananjaya without hesitation said: “It’s simple. Put runs on board and put the pressure on the opponents.”

However, he quickly admitted that India and Pakistan, who are in Group A, will be a challenge. “Both those teams are balanced sides. They have good batsmen, good bowlers and good all-rounders, which are needed to win matches. We also have a squad like them. I feel all the teams are equal in this occasion.”

Sri Lanka take on Bangladesh in the opening match of the competition on September 15. So will Bangladesh be a big challenge? “Yes they have a good side. Every team and every game is a challenge for us,” said Dhananjaya, who also feels that Afghanistan too can throw up a big challenge.

“Afghanistan has been doing well in international cricket. However, their spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman is very inexperienced in international cricket and we need to take advantage of it.”