Asia Cup will be tough competition- Hathurusingha

September 12, 2018

Sri Lanka Head Coach Chandika Hathurusingha says the 2018 Asia Cup is going to be a tough competition, terming Sri Lanka the underdogs and highlighting that he would be happy if the team makes it to the final.

On paper, having won five Asia Cup titles previously, Sri Lanka are strong contenders to win the 14th edition of the tournament.

Sri Lanka will take on Bangladesh in the curtain-raiser of the six-nation competition in Dubai on Saturday.

India is the word’s second ranked team and defending champions.

Hathurusingha told Firstpost in an interview “Both teams in our opening round are like banana skins you see. On their days they can upset any team. They have match winners and they can surprise you. Bangladesh have been playing good cricket and they don’t have that fear factor anymore. We have to make sure that their impact players are not having a good day”.

Two days after the Bangladesh clash, Sri Lanka will take on Afghanistan in Abu Dhabi.

Spinner Akila Dananjaya, has emerged as one of Sri Lanka’s premier bowlers, but has withdrawn from the opening two games for the birth of his first child.

Sri Lanka is currently ranked eighth in the world and had a poor 2017 where they won only five of their 29 ODIs.

That included three 5-0 whitewashes at the hands of South Africa, India and Pakistan.

This year has been slightly better with the team having won five of their ten games, but Hathurusingha is aware that the team has a long way to go.

In a bid to bring the best out of the team, Hathurusingha brought in former captain Kumar Sangakkara to address the Sri Lankan team during their preparations ahead of the Asia Cup.

He said “What we did with Sanga was to ask him questions. We specifically asked about his preparation. That was one of the things that I saw in Sanga as a player. His preparation is very methodical, specific, unique and very detailed. For someone to have 11 double hundreds, he must be thinking something different from others. He is second only to Bradman.”

Hathurusingha highlighted that Upul Tharanga will be the key for Sri Lanka.

The opening batsman was one of the three players to score more than 1000 runs in 2017 in ODIs along with Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.

Hathurusingha added Pakistan are favourites for him, given they are the Champions Trophy winners and have an excellent record in UAE.