The 2023 edition of the Asia Cup is set to commence with grandeur in Pakistan on August 30, featuring the host nation’s opening match against a qualifier. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka, acting as co-hosts through a hybrid model to ensure India’s participation due to BCCI’s reluctance to play in Pakistan, will hold their inaugural match on the following day at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium. However, prior to the tournament’s kickoff, the COVID-19 situation has impacted the Asia Cup’s planning.
Just five days before the Asia Cup’s commencement, defending champions Sri Lanka encountered a significant setback. Four cricketers’ availability for the event has come into doubt due to a combination of injuries and Covid-19. Fast bowler Dushamantha Chameera is likely to miss the tournament due to a shoulder injury he sustained during the recently concluded Lanka Premier League (LPL). Additionally, leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga, who suffered a thigh injury ahead of the LPL final, might miss at least two matches during the tournament.
Key Developments Affecting Sri Lanka’s Squad for Asia Cup
Compounding Sri Lanka’s challenges, batsmen Kusal Perera and Avishka Fernando, both potential members of the Asia Cup squad, have tested positive for Covid-19. At present, both star players are under observation, and their inclusion in the Lankan squad depends on the pace of their recovery. The report indicates that both players exhibited symptoms in the latter stages of the LPL tournament. Their selection for the Asia Cup will only happen if they test negative.
Fernando has been absent from ODI action since January due to an injury, while Perera hasn’t been part of the ODI squad since 2021, primarily due to a combination of lackluster form and struggles with injuries.
The injury sustained by Hasaranga, who displayed exceptional performance in the LPL as both a wicket-taker and a run-scorer, is the most significant blow for Sri Lanka. While Dilshan Madushanka, Kasun Rajitha, or Asitha Fernando could potentially replace Chameera, Hasaranga’s absence creates a noticeable void in the Lankan lineup.
Sri Lanka’s Asia Cup campaign will start with a match against Bangladesh on August 31 at Pallekele. Their second group game will take place at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium on September 5.