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Sri Lanka are desperate to deliver Asia Cup for the country: Shanaka

Last updated on 16 Sep 2023 | 08:57 AM
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Sri Lanka are desperate to deliver Asia Cup for the country: Shanaka

Shanaka also insisted that his decision-making is crucial for Sri Lankan team

Sri Lankan cricket has had a steep downfall in recent times, with no real leader for the national side. That’s when Sri Lankan Cricket (SLC) took the brave decision of appointing the all-rounder Dasun Shanaka as the national side's captain. 

Since then, Sri Lankan cricket has seen steady growth, with the national team making inroads in last year’s Asia Cup when they defeated Pakistan in the final. They also continued their success, qualifying for the 2023 ICC ODI World Cup in India and beating the Netherlands in the final. This year, too, they have continued their success, with the team making it to their second consecutive Asia Cup final. 

Shanaka insisted that the team wants to deliver the Asia Cup win for the country and added that the secret of the young team is in their ‘fighting’ mentality. 

“Peaking at the right time, the boys desperately want to deliver it for the country. As a team, we have been underdogs; everyone wants to perform at the highest level, and these youngsters must show the world they are capable. That’s the secret of the young team,” Shanaka said in the pre-match press conference. 

“It (team selection) totally depends on the pitch. The pitch has been playing a part in the tournament, and according to that, we are picking a good side. Especially on bowling wickets, we have to take more wickets up front, that opens the game for us. That’s our clear plans,” he had to add.

Sri Lanka have had two close wins in this year’s tournament, against Afghanistan and later, against Pakistan. In both wins, crowd support was integral to their chances, and Shanaka added that the crowd have been pulled by the performance of the youngsters. 

“Fans are amazing, they have come out and supported us. The way the guys have performed has attracted more crowds. The youngsters have been amazing, and the record is good. And the fans see that we are fighting in the middle. Whatever the end result is, that’s what is important,” he stated.

“Even in the close loss against India, we fought very well with the ball. The crowd likes to see the kids (Wellalage and Pathirana) and even Nissanka and Asalanka. So, they eagerly waited to watch these guys perform. That’s the difference, and everyone wants to watch ODIs.”

“It is not a new thing for Sri Lankan fans, after the match ends, even I get a message saying, ‘why are you giving us heart attacks’. So, we were really emotional and the crowd as well. It is a big thing for us to be in the final for two consistent years.”

One of the major things that has hurt Shanaka’s team is Shanaka’s own batting skills. Since his century against India in Guwahati, Shanaka has scores of 2, 11, 0, 31, 17, 23, 1, 5, 0, 5, 1, 14*, 5, 24, 9 and 2, failing with the bat. Since January 12, 2023, the all-rounder averages just ten with the bat. 

Despite that, Shanaka insisted that his batting numbers don’t come in his way of decision-making and assured that the Island nation is in good hands when it comes to the decisions taken on the field. 

“I don’t compare my batting when I lead the team. My decision-making is more important than my batting in the middle. By that, I don’t mean that my batting isn’t important. I need to be calm when the decisions are taken. My decisions have helped the team tackle some tough yards. I must thank the selectors for backing me and my coaching staff for giving me the confidence,” he added.

Sri Lanka will be without Maheesh Theekshana, who has been ruled out of the ongoing Asia Cup. But Shanaka reassured that the mystery spinner would be fit and available for the upcoming ODI World Cup. 

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