Experienced SL a test for UAE’s T20 cred

Thursday, 25 February 2016 00:28 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

ESPNCricinfo: After the 2-1 loss in India, Sri Lanka have a chance to ease their way into the Asia Cup by taking on the UAE in their first match. The return of the captain Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Rangana Herath and Nuwan Kulasekara will give the team a major boost as they look to start gathering themselves ahead of the World T20, where they have a title to defend.

Sri Lanka have a well-balanced side for these two tournaments with an experienced batting line-up consisting of Tillakaratne Dilshan, Dinesh Chandimal, Mathews and Chamara Kapugedara. The bowling attack has seam allrounders Dasun Shanaka and Thisara BUP_DFTDFT-24-02Perera, spin allrounders Shehan Jayasuriya and Milinda Siriwardana, as well as experienced spinners like Herath and Sachithra Senanayake. Legspinner Jeffrey Vandersay is a newcomer and could be a surprise package.

The game against UAE will give Sri Lanka an opportunity to figure out how they can balance their spin and seam allrounders, with special focus on Jayasuriya and Siriwardana. There is also the question of whether Kapugedara will be able to use his vast experience in Mirpur to Sri Lanka’s advantage.

The match will be a major test for UAE as they look to continue their good form from the qualifiers, where they won all three matches against Afghanistan, Oman and Hong Kong. Some new match-winners have emerged, which could help them not be just another Associate participant among the big boys. Watch out for Rohan Mustafa, Muhammad Kaleem, Muhammad Usman, Mohammad Naveed and Shaiman Anwar. Sri Lanka have historically been ruthless against Associates, so there is danger of this game ending up as a no-contest early in the evening. That should be motivation enough for UAE to make sure they remain in the contest.

Lasith Malinga last played a T20 series against West Indies in November before injuring his knee. He is back in Sri Lanka’s leadership, and like the rest of the line-up, will slowly wade into action. His vast experience will be a test for UAE.

UAE will have Rohan Mustafa tackling the likes of Malinga first up. Mustafa is one of the new UAE stars who can be expected to put up a fight as they look to give a good impression of themselves against a major opponent. His offspin, too, will be handy in his side’s bid to keep Sri Lanka down to a manageable total.