By T.B. Rahaman
Sri Lanka could face strong opposition from Kuwait who are drawn in to group A as they start the Asia/Oceania Group III by BNP Paribas on the clay courts of the SLTA at Sir Marcus Fernando Mawatha today.
Sri Lanka are drawn with Kuwait, Myanmar and Vietnam in to group A while Lebanon, Malaysia, UAE and Oman are in group B.
According to present form Kuwait and Sri Lanka are on equal terms while Myanmar and Vietnam are not expected to fare so well. However, Sri Lanka cannot take any opponent lightly as in the previous tie held in Colombo when Sri Lanka lost to Oman in the opening game quite unexpectedly.
Lebanon, who were qualified to group II when they last played in Colombo, and United Arab Emirates (UAE) are also expected to be of high standard. If they occupy the two top positions in their group and if Sri Lanka finish in one of the top two spots in group A then Sri Lanka will have to play against them in the promotion group match. This is when the true strength of Sri Lanka will be tested in this tie.
If Sri Lanka wish to gain promotion to group II then they will have to beat Lebanon and UAE towards the final days of the tie.
The Sri Lanka players in Harshana Godamanna and Oshada Wijemanne should carry the load on their shoulders and play responsibly in the singles matches. Much will depend on these two players and the hopes of gaining promotion to group II. Thangarajah Dineshk-anthan can be tried out when Sri Lanka takes an unassailable lead and play the doubles with Rajeev Rajapakse.
They will be fresh players to pair off in the doubles when the heat of Colombo has sapped the energy from the singles players.
Also the guidance by non playing captain Aasiri Iddamalgoda from the bench of the court should help the players to minimise the mistakes.
Anticipation by players will also be of importance as the long rallying will depend on where the opponents will place his shots.
Thus anticipation will play a major role in the victories that Sri Lanka can obtain.
The preparation of players has been exceptionally good with former captain Rohan de Silva and Aqeel Khan of Pakistan doing a wonderful job in their drills.
Tennis fans can expect some exciting tennis this week and Sri Lankans are expected to come in large numbers to cheer their heroes to victory.