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Asia Cup 2018: Squad & Key Players - Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka's batting mainstay
CONTRIBUTOR
Modified 16 Jan 2019
Feature

Definitely not considered the favourites to win the trophy and certainly fallen from grace, the current Sri Lankan team doesn't have an ace player or a match winner to single-handedly win games for them.

They are not even considered to top their group, which also has Bangladesh and Afghanistan, a team which has come leaps and bounds to pose a challenge to any team on their day.

Gone are the days when Jayasuriya would force bowlers to change their lengths by smacking a length ball outside the off stump over square leg for six or when Sangakkara would play a classic cover drive to inspire his team!

This is a team which has been rebuilding for quite some time now. Hathurasingha has been very clear in his approach though. In order for this team to punch above their weight, they should not feel the weight. His attempts to instil fearlessness in his players have paid dividends to some extent, though not fully.

Below are the players to look out for in the series, who could play a pivotal role in the team's success in the series.

Dinesh Chandimal

Having been mentored by Sangakkara, the right-handed stroke-maker, along with Lahiru Thiramanne, was hailed as the next batting mainstay in the team, post the Sanga-Mahela era. Even though he has not lived up to those lofty expectations, he is still the team's most technically gifted player, with ability to produce counter-attacking cricket, as displayed in the Test series against Pakistan in UAE, leading the team to a series win, incidentally becoming the only team to beat Pakistan in a Test series in UAE.

Returning from a ban he had received over the ball-tampering scandal, he would provide much-required balance in the middle-order with Mathews clearly having been assigned the role of an anchor in the team.

Akila Dhananjaya

Having made his debut at the age of 18, Akila Dhananjaya is definitely poised to be the bowling mainstay of the Sri Lankan team with assuring displays of handling the responsibilities of a frontline spinner. The spinner bagged 14 wickets in the recently concluded five-match series against South Africa, claiming six wickets in the final ODI and bamboozling the South African batsmen for a paltry total of 121.

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Possessing a classic leg-spinner, a carrom ball, and a splendid googly up his sleeve, Akila Dhananjaya is definitely a key player in this squad, not just for this tournament.

One for the future
One for the future

Kusal Mendis

A stroke-maker at the top of the order, Kusal Mendis' aggression and ability to handle both the spinners and pacers with ease makes him an invaluable addition to the team. Often being required to come in to bat very early in the innings (Sri Lankan openers are not the best in the world!), his ability play the short ball is invaluable, as is his ability to clear the infield at will, especially in the powerplay overs.

Even though his aggression has also led to his downfall on quite a few occasions, Hathurasingha's attempts to allow his players to play with freedom augurs well with his natural instincts and if given the license, he could definitely be a handful for the opposition bowlers to handle.

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Kusal Mendis
Kusal Mendis

Dushmantha Chameera

The only Sri Lankan bowler currently able to clock speeds of over 140kmph consistently, Chameera always bends his back to generate the extra yard of pace. In fact, he quite literally bends his back so much that a stress fracture in his lower back has kept him out of the game for quite some time. This is the same injury that had kept him out of IPL as well, having been purchased by Rajasthan Royals ( for a not-so-bad 50L!).

Whether he would be picked in the playing XI or not is a different question altogether, as he last played an ODI in January 2018. Kasun Rajitha, Suranga Lakmal, and Lasith Malinga are the other pacers in the squad and Suranga Lakmal is a certain starter in the playing XI. With Lasith Malinga also being recalled into the squad after a while, the old warhorse would be raring to go and it would be interesting to see team management's thought process regarding the selection of the playing XI.

They are known to accommodate two spinners into the squad and UAE provides them all the more reasons to continue the trend.

Sri Lanka squad: Angelo Mathews (Captain), Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Upul Tharanga, Dinesh Chandimal, Danushka Gunathilaka, Thisara Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Dhanajaya de Silva, Akila Dananjaya, Dilruwan Perera, Amila Aponso, Kasun Rajitha, Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera and Lasith Malinga.

Published 03 Sep 2018, 23:10 IST
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