Sri Lanka begin training ahead of Asia Cup



by Rex Clementine

The national cricket team started preparations ahead of their Asia Cup campaign yesterday at RPS. The three hour training session started at 2pm with all members of the squad present. Today the team will train under lights at the same venue and on Friday they will work on match scenarios. The training will conclude on Monday before the team travels to Dubai on Tuesday.

The Sri Lankans are waiting on the fitness of wicketkeeper batsman Dinesh Chandimal, who is nursing a fractured right middle finger. Chandimal sustained the injury while attempting a catch during the SLC T-20 League. The captain of the Colombo team was ruled out of the final and has been restricted to weight training on his lower body. Chandimal will go for another scan on Friday and his availability will be known then. He is expected to be fit before for the six nation tournament.

Akila Dananjaya is also set to miss Sri Lanka’s first two games as his wife is expected to give birth to their first child next week. Sri Lanka have named 16 players in the squad with off-spinner Dilruwan Perera coming in as cover for Dananjaya.

Top order batsman Dhananjaya de Silva is also nursing a side strain, but he too is expected to be fit before the team’s departure to UAE.

Yesterday’s training session was the first fast bowler Lasith Malinga had with the national team in more than a year. Since playing a T-20 International against India at RPS last September, Malinga has been in the sidelines. It was also the first session he had with Head Coach Chandika Hathurusingha.

Fast bowler Dushmantha Chameera is also back in the side making a comeback after six months due to injury.

Sri Lanka will take on Bangladesh in the curtain-raiser of the tournament in Dubai on the 15th of September. Two days later they will take on Afghanistan in another Group ‘A’ fixture in Abu Dhabi. Arch-rivals India and Pakistan along with one of the qualifiers will form Group ‘B’. Only the top two teams will progress to the Super Four round.

Sri Lanka have struggled in white ball cricket in recent times and are ranked eighth in ODIs and ninth in T-20 cricket.

Sri Lanka won the Asia Cup the last time when the event was held in 50 over format beating Pakistan in the finals in Dhaka in 2014. In 2016, the tournament was converted into T-20s.

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