By Madushka Balasuriya
With temperatures set to breach 40 degrees centigrade and an uncertainty surrounding how the ball will react under lights, Head Coach Chandika Hathurusingha is not underestimating the role of external factors in Sri Lanka’s opening Asia Cup clashes in the UAE later this week.
“The challenge for every team is going to be the weather conditions. It’s going be very hot and whatever that brings - whether you get dew or whether you get swing in the night - those are the challenges that I see,” the Sri Lankan Head Coach told gathered media ahead of his team’s flight to the UAE.
Sri Lanka first take on Bangladesh before a short two-day turnaround when they face Afghanistan. The impact of the weather aside, both games offer their own elements of unpredictability.
Sri Lanka and Bangladesh of course have recent bad blood following some unsavoury altercations during the Nidahas Trophy in Colombo earlier this year, while in Afghanistan there is a settled side, ready and primed to finally make their mark in a major tournament.
Unsurprisingly, Hathurusingha, who is well known for his in-depth planning and attention to detail, is not taking either side lightly.
“I’m very happy with the preparations we have done in the last week and a half. We’ve actually prepared for specific match scenarios in the last three practice sessions focusing on those two teams,” he explained.
Meanwhile, in Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera and Lasith Malinga, Sri Lanka have a combined 213 caps in the shortest format, while the likes of Suranga Lakmal, Upul Tharanga and Dilruwan Perera also come with a strong international pedigree.
In a format where even one defeat could mean elimination, Sri Lanka will be banking on this wealth of experience to avoid any unexpected hiccups - with Lasith Malinga in particular backed to perform.
“Both teams are very dangerous teams, especially in those conditions, and as such you can see that even in our team selection we have focused on experience, because we really want to win the first two games and qualify for the next round.
“As for Lasith, we all know what he’s capable of. He’s one of the best death bowlers in the world and the last one and a half months, he’s performed really well. His fitness has also come up to our expectation, and he’s really keen to bowl.”
Sri Lanka take on Bangladesh in the opening game on 15 September in Dubai.