India can secure their place in the final of the cricket’s Asia Cup when taking on a Sri Lanka side in desperate need of a victory in Mirpur, Bangladesh on Tuesday. Favorites to land the upcoming World Twenty20 on home soil, India have continued their recent rich vein of form in cricket’s shortest format by inflicting heavy defeats on both Bangladesh and Pakistan in what is the first T20 Asia Cup.
After a 45-run win over the hosts in the tournament’s opening match, India overcame neighbors and fierce rivals Pakistan on Saturday in an eagerly anticipated showdown. India’s bowlers, led by the pace attack of Ashish Nehra, Jasprit Bumrah and the three-wicket haul of Hardik Pandya cut Pakistan’s innings short for just 83 runs. And, despite a difficult start and a searing spell from Mohammad Amir, India comfortably reeled off the runs with 27 balls remaining, thanks largely to a perfectly judged 49 from Virat Kohli.
Kohli was absent from a recent three-match series against Sri Lanka, yet India still wound up winning 2-1 to continue the momentum from their whitewashing of Australia Down Under. Another win on Tuesday would confirm India’s place in Sunday final, but spinner Ravichandran Ashwin is not willing to look past the challenge of Sri Lanka.
“We have played great T20 cricket in past few months and we are trying to iron whatever little jinx we have and or how better we can get—the 11 in the team and the four outside,” he said, according The Indian Express. The kind of cricket we play is what’s going to put us in best shape possible. The opponent doesn’t matter, not disrespecting anyone but we have to treat everyone with same respect,”
“There is a familiarity since only 10 teams play international cricket and once you have played couple of years, you are familiar with each opposition. Sri Lanka is a team we have played a lot and they can punch above their weight and play as a pack. I don’t know if they are missing [Lasith] Malinga as he is a champion bowler.”
Malinga, Sri Lanka’s star bowler, returned from an injury layoff for the team’s opening game against the United Arab Emirates and took four wickets. But a knee problem then meant him sitting out the following game against Bangladesh, which Sri Lanka lost by 23 runs to leave them needing to beat India and then Pakistan in their final two matches to have a chance of reaching the final. With Malinga potentially out against India, too, and the team’s batting lineup struggling, there is much to concern captain Angelo Matthews.
Encouragement, though, will come from the fact that India have injury issues of their own. Dhoni has been troubled with back spasms throughout the competition, while Shikhar Dhawan remains a doubt after sitting out the win over Pakistan with a heel complaint. In addition, Dhawan’s fellow opener Rohit Sharma also suffered a blow to a toe that, although scans revealed didn’t cause a break, could keep him sidelined.
Sri Lanka can take heart, too, from the fact that the one victory they did secure over India in their recent series came on a green pitch in Pune similar to the one the teams are likely to encounter in Mirpur on Tuesday.
Match time: 8:30 a.m. EST
Live streaming info: In the United States, the match can be viewed via Yupp TV.