Asia Cup 2018, Match 1 - Sri Lanka Predicted XI

Asia Cup 2018, Match 1 – Sri Lanka Predicted XI

Sri Lanka will want to produce their A game in the tournament opener and set the tone for the rest of the matches to follow.

Asia Cup
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews. (Photo by MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

For the first time in a few decades, Sri Lanka will be entering the Asia Cup with very minimal expectations from their fans. The Lankan units led by Arjuna Ranatunga, Aravinda de Silva, Mahela Jayawardene, Marvan Atapattu, and Kumar Sangakkara always had a big impact on the tournament. They more often than not made it all the way to the final though on several occasions ended as runners-up.

Things are pretty different right now and they are mere dark horses. They do have the ability to go and lift the trophy, but to reflect that on the field has proved very difficult for the Islanders of late. Angelo Mathews’ troops will kick-start their 2018 Asia Cup campaign against Bangladesh.

The Tigers will pose a stern test as over the last few years, they have grown from strength to strength. To even call them favorites in this contest will not be an exaggeration as both teams in a way stand on level terms, and Bangladesh have a slight edge as far as the form factor is concerned.

Openers – (Upul Tharanga and Niroshan Dickwella (WK))

A veteran in the side and the highest run-getter in ODIs among the current crop of Lankan cricketers, Upul Tharanga brings in tons of experience to the side. He can explode with the bat when he wants to and he also has the tendency to bat for long periods, his versatility will come in handy for the side.

Niroshan Dickwella should walk out to open alongside Tharanga for this crucial contest. The exuberant southpaw can strike the ball a fair distance and might be playing the aggressor with Tharanga playing second-fiddle.

Middle Order – (Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera, Dhananjaya de Silva, Angelo Mathews (C))

Their middle order has some pretty talented names, all of them who promised a few years ago when their senior players had not retired. But with the onus coming upon them, they haven’t reacted well to the pressure at all. Skipper Angelo Mathews will be the heart and soul of this middle order.

Kusal Mendis or Dhananjaya de Silva might be batting at number 3. A fact that the Lions have four left-handers in their top 4, Dhananjaya de Silva might get a promotion if Mehidy Hasan is operating at one end. Kusal Perera is highly likely to bat at number 4.

All-rounders – (Thisara Perera, Dasun Shanaka)

Thisara Perera has been playing at this level for almost a decade now and it’d be important for him to take responsibility on his shoulders whenever needed. He can chip in with a few cameos in the lower middle order. It’s highly imperative that he completes his quota of 10 overs without giving too many panic attacks to his skipper.

Dasun Shanaka is more of a batting all-rounder, henceforth it’ll be important for him to bat in the top 5 and chip in with a good score. He can also deliver a few good overs with his medium pace.

Bowlers – (Akila Dananjaya, Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Malinga)

Akila Dananjaya and his mystical off-spin is something Mathews will be banking on in every difficult situation in the tournament. He certainly has the capability to break partnerships and outfox even the best players with his canny variations.

Suranga Lakmal and Lasith Malinga are the premium fast bowlers in the side. This is the final time Malinga will be playing in this tournament and he would be hoping to lay hands on the trophy. Lakmal too brings in a lot of experience and it’ll be interesting to see how well he can contribute to the side.

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