Skipper Dasun Shanaka and his exuberant young team will face the acid test of breaking a 7-year jinx of winning the Asia Cup 2022 that gets underway in the UAE tomorrow. Sri Lanka remains the hosts of the mega tournament of the Asian region despite it been shifted by the Asian Cricket Council due to concerns arising from the prevailing economy crisis unrest. Sri Lanka last won the championship in 2014 defeating Pakistan by 5 wickets in the final at home.
The countdown In that thrust, Shanaka, a pinch hitting all-rounder, will face the task of guiding number 3 ranked Sri Lanka past number 1 favourites and current reigning champions India, the current reigning champions and ranked number 1 favourites. Pakistan is ranked number 3. Sri Lanka has won the trophy five times since the inaugural tournament in 1984. Indeed, the Lankans, boasting of quite a fired up cast driven by some forceful playmakers, will be taking a crack for the whooping high stakes US $ 200,000 prize money allure for the jackpot in the six-nation tournament that also comprises Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Hong Kong. Sri Lanka has won the trophy on five occasions in 1986, 1997, 2004, 2008 and 2014 while Sanath Jayasuriya holds the record for the most number of runs – 1,220.
Sri Lanka is drawn in Group B alongside Bangladesh and Afghanistan whom they will meet in the curtain raiser tomorrow in Dubai. The side is buoyed by some promising campaigns with the the hard hitting 25-year Charith Asalanka elevated to the vice captaincy on the back of some telling performances at Test and One-Day level. Also packing muscle is leg spin all-rounder Wanindu Hasaranga who is known for his flamboyant stroke making down the order. The recall of former captain Dinesh Chandimal to instant cricket’s hamburger T20 format following some telling batting performances following a long hiatus has beefed up the side.
The squad without pacer Kasun Rajitha due to injury, does see 19-year old pacer Matheesha Pathirana who has got there on the back of forceful domestic performances. SRI LANKA SQUAD: Dasun Shanaka (C), Charith Asalanka (VC), Dhanushka Gunathilaka, Pathum Nissanka, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Dhananjaya de Silva, Wanindu Hasaranga, Jeffrey Vandersay, Maheesh Theekshana, Ashen Bandara, Chamika Karunaratne, Praveen Jayawickrama, Dinesh Chandimal, Dilshan Madushanka, Matheesha Pathirana, Nuwanidu Fernando, Dushmantha Chameera, Binura Fernando.
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-