Sri Lanka will co-host the highly anticipated Asia Cup 2023 tournament alongside Pakistan, who defeated Nepal comprehensively last night.

Sri Lanka, the defending champions of the Asia Cup, secured victory over Pakistan in the final of the previous edition held in the UAE. However, this year the tournament has returned to its ODI format and is serving as crucial preparation for the ICC World Cup 2023, scheduled to commence on October 5 in India.

The lead-up to Sri Lanka’s Asia Cup campaign was marked by challenges, with the selectors facing the hurdle of injured players. Key pacers Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara, along with Dilshan Madushanka, were sidelined due to injuries. Nevertheless, the most significant setback came when star spinner Wanindu Hasaranga suffered a thigh injury during the Lanka Premier League (LPL) 2023, resulting in his absence from the Asia Cup squad. This decision was made to allow him ample time for recovery ahead of the World Cup.

Taking the helm as captain of the Sri Lankan side will be Dasun Shanaka, with Kusal Mendis serving as his deputy, as they embark on their journey to defend their Asia Cup title and prepare for the upcoming ICC World Cup 2023.

Also READ: India’s best playing XI for the Asia Cup 2023

Top-order batting: The bedrock of batting brilliance

At the top of the batting order, Sri Lanka relies on the reliable Dimuth Karunaratne. He’s not only an accomplished opener but also the former Test captain, known for his ability to play long, patient innings. Karunaratne’s solid technique, unwavering focus, and leadership qualities make him a vital asset.

Partnering Karunaratne is the dynamic Kusal Perera. As both a wicket-keeper and a left-handed batter, Perera injects aggression into Sri Lanka’s starts. His fearless approach to batting, coupled with an array of attacking shots, can put bowlers under immediate pressure. Perera’s ability to seize the momentum for his team in the powerplay overs is noteworthy.

Middle-order: The vital core

In the middle order, Sri Lanka boasts Mendis, a stylish right-handed batter with the ability to play graceful strokes all around the ground. Mendis has been a consistent performer for Sri Lanka, and his ability to stabilize the innings after an early dismissal is pivotal. Joining him is the young and talented Charith Asalanka, who has been making waves in Sri Lankan cricket. Asalanka’s adaptability in various batting situations and his potential to play big innings make him a player to watch out for in the tournament. He has been a bright prospect for Sri Lanka.

Adding depth to the middle order is Sadeera Samarawickrama, who not only serves as a backup wicket-keeper but also contributes significantly with the bat. His ability to rotate the strike and find gaps in the field can be instrumental in building partnerships during the middle overs.

All-rounders: Dynamic game changers

Sri Lanka’s all-round department is spearheaded by Dhananjaya de Silva, a versatile cricketer who offers both batting solidity and off-spin bowling skills. De Silva’s ability to break partnerships with the ball and stabilize the innings with the bat makes him a valuable asset.

Leading the side as captain, Shanaka is not just a leader but also a game-changer. His explosive batting in the latter stages of the innings is well-documented, and he’s equally effective with his medium-fast bowling. Shanaka’s composure under pressure and leadership skills are expected to play a pivotal role in guiding the team.

Bowlers: Wicket harvesters and game influencers

Sri Lanka’s bowling attack is poised to make a significant impact in the Asia Cup, led by a mix of talented bowlers. Maheesh Theekshana, a young and promising leg-spinner, stands out as a potential game-changer. His unique leg-spin variations can befuddle even the best of batter. Theekshana has a deceptive googly and can extract sharp turn from the surface, making him a formidable weapon in the middle overs. His ability to break partnerships and create pressure on the opposition makes him a key asset for Sri Lanka.

Dushan Hemantha, a right-arm leg-spinner, adds depth to the spin department. His leg-spin variations and control over line and length can trouble batter and provide crucial breakthroughs. Hemantha’s ability to exploit the conditions and deceive batter with his flighted deliveries adds a strategic dimension to the bowling attack.

In the fast bowling department, Binura Fernando provides pace and bounce with the new ball. His ability to extract movement in the early overs can provide crucial breakthroughs. Kasun Rajitha is another vital component, known for his ability to swing the ball both ways. His knack for picking up early wickets can put the opposition on the back foot.

This Sri Lankan playing eleven is a well-rounded unit, bringing together a mix of experience and emerging talents. Their performances in the Asia Cup will be closely watched as they aim to make their mark on the international stage.

Also READ: Pakistan’s best playing XI for the Asia Cup 2023

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