Experienced SL a test for UAE’s T20 cred

Sri Lankan cricketer Lasith Malinga delivers a ball during a practice session at The Rangiri Dambulla International Cricket stadium in Dambulla, some 150kms north of Colombo on July 10, 2015, ahead of the first one day international match against Pakistan. AFP PHOTO / LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI (Photo credit should read LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images)

After the 2-1 loss in India, Sri Lanka have a chance to ease their way into the Asia Cup by taking on the UAE in their first match. The return of the captain Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Rangana Herath and Nuwan Kulasekara will give the team a major boost as they look to start gathering themselves ahead of the World T20, where they have a title to defend.

Sri Lanka have a well-balanced side for these two tournaments with an experienced batting line-up consisting of Tillakaratne Dilshan, Dinesh Chandimal, Mathews and Chamara Kapugedara. The bowling attack has seam allrounders Dasun Shanaka and Thisara Perera, spin allrounders Shehan Jayasuriya and Milinda Siriwardana, as well as experienced spinners like Herath and Sachithra Senanayake. Legspinner Jeffrey Vandersay is a newcomer and could be a surprise package.

The game against UAE will give Sri Lanka an opportunity to figure out how they can balance their spin and seam allrounders, with special focus on Jayasuriya and Siriwardana. There is also the question of whether Kapugedara will be able to use his vast experience in Mirpur to Sri Lanka’s advantage.

The match will be a major test for UAE as they look to continue their good form from the qualifiers, where they won all three matches against Afghanistan, Oman and Hong Kong. Some new match-winners have emerged, which could help them not be just another Associate participant among the big boys. Watch out for Rohan Mustafa, Muhammad Kaleem, Muhammad Usman, Mohammad Naveed and Shaiman Anwar.

Sri Lanka have historically been ruthless against Associates, so there is danger of this game ending up as a no-contest early in the evening. That should be motivation enough for UAE to make sure they remain in the contest.

The big call for Sri Lanka is whether to play Herath ahead of their seam allrounders, given how Mirpur has been good for seam bowling on certain evenings. Sri Lanka could also be in a dilemma about Kulasekara, while Jayasuriya and Vandersay are handy spin options.

Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Niroshan Dikwella (wk), 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3 Dinesh Chandimal, 4 Angelo Mathews, 5 Milinda Siriwardana, 6 Chamara Kapugedara, 7 Dasun Shanaka, 8 Thisara Perera, 9 Sachithra Senanayake, 10 Dushmanth Chameera, 11 Lasith Malinga (capt)

UAE are unlikely to go with Zaheer Maqsood, Fahad Tariq and Farhan Ahmed unless there is an injury to one of the players who featured in the victory against Oman in their last qualifying match in Fatullah.

UAE (probable): 1 Rohan Mustafa, 2 Muhammad Kaleem, 3 Mohammad Shahzad, 4 Shaiman Anwar, 5 Muhammad Usman, 6 Amjad Javed (capt), 7 Mohammad Naveed, 8 Saqlain Haider, 9 Ahmed Raza, 10 SP Patil (wk), 11 Qadeer Ahmed.


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