DUBAI: Sri Lanka skipper Dasun Shanaka on Monday said India’s IPL experience and winning mindset makes them a challenging team to face as his side targets a place in the Asia Cup final.
The island nation won their opening Super Four match and know another victory against Rohit Sharma’s India in Dubai on Tuesday will edge them closer to a shot at the title.
Sri Lanka saw off Afghanistan on Saturday while India lost to arch-rivals Pakistan to start the Super Four round. They desperately need a win to stay in the race for the final on Sunday.
India arrived without spearhead Jasprit Bumrah and Harshal Patel due to injuries. Ravindra Jadeja, an all-rounder who bowls left-arm spin, picked up a knee injury during the tournament.
“It doesn’t matter who comes from the Indian side. They come with a lot of experience playing IPL games and around the world,” Shanaka told reporters.
“Their body language and mindset is to beat any of the countries at the international stage. Likewise we are well prepared and looking forward to it.”
India are defending their Asia Cup title won in 2018 when the tournament used the 50-over format, but their last ICC title came in the 2013 Champions Trophy.
This year’s Asia Cup takes on extra significance because the T20 World Cup in Australia takes place in October and November.
India began this Asia Cup with a win over Pakistan but went down to them by five wickets on Sunday.
Shanaka believes India will be under no pressure against them.
“I think they had a very good game last night. There is nothing called under pressure at the moment because they are playing very good cricket,” said Shanaka.
“Our approach will the same like other games, playing in a positive manner.”
Sri Lanka bounced back from their crushing opening loss to Afghanistan in the group stage to beat Bangladesh and enter the Super Four.
The team then chased down 176 at Sharjah to beat the Afghans by four wickets and Shanaka insists their batting remains the key to success.
“Our strength is batting and if the batsmen do good then we got a better chance, and key is the partnerships in the game,” said Shanaka.
“And if we can have partnerships top of the order then we are in the game.”
The India-Pakistan rivalry has been the main talking point at the event as the two nations have played each other twice already, with fans anticipating another meeting in the final.
Shanaka said his team has shut out the noise to focus on their own game.
“When it comes to Asian cricket games it’s majorly India-Pakistan games everyone talks about, but we’ve got a very good team, which can win,” said Shanaka.
“So I don’t mind about the big talks, but rather concentrate on the way we are playing.”
Published in Dawn, September 6th, 2022