Sri Lanka will come in “fresh” for an Asia Cup Super Four clash against India likely to be playing for a third consecutive day, their coach said Monday.
India’s match against arch-rivals Pakistan spilt over into a reserve day on Monday after only 24.1 overs, with the 50-over contest acting as a prelude to their big battle in the upcoming ODI World Cup.
Dasun Shanaka’s Sri Lanka, who won the last edition of the Asia Cup — played in the T20 format — began their Super Four with a win over Bangladesh on Saturday. Another victory would improve their chances of making the final on September 17.
“With a team like India, you never know, but obviously they are playing three days in a row,” assistant coach Naveed Nawaz told reporters. “We have got a bit of a break since the last game, so the boys are fresh for tomorrow. That can be good for us.”
Sri Lanka remain unbeaten in the tournament after winning both their group matches while India are still searching for their first win in the Super Four stage.
“If we plan to play good cricket, if we execute our plans and go into the best version of ourselves in the middle against India — obviously the result will be favourable for us,” Nawaz said.
Only India have won more Asia Cup titles than Sri Lanka, who have often spoiled the India-Pakistan party in the final.
In the last edition, they beat Pakistan to lift the title in Dubai.
“Our boys are very resilient when it comes to handling pressure,” said Nawaz, pointing out that Sri Lanka have been without some of their first-choice players in the past two editions of the tournament.
One name to watch out for is up-and-coming fast bowler Matheesha Pathirana.
The 20-year-old has made an impression with his slinging action and toe-crushing yorkers similar to his hero Lasith Malinga.
Pathirana shone for MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings as they captured this year’s Indian Premier League title.
“I am sure MS and Chennai would have played a part in his development, but Pathirana is a product of Sri Lanka cricket,” said Nawaz, when asked about Dhoni’s part in brushing up Pathirana.
“He has played two Under-19 World Cups with us, he has been an identified product, and he has been in the development programmes of Sri Lanka Cricket.”