Bangladesh-Sri Lanka fixtures might have had a little more tension over the last few years, than they used to. And perhaps this match will add to the emotions.
Repeatedly in the press conference, Shanaka made clear that there was respect between the Sri Lanka and Bangladesh players, and that Bangladesh are a force to be reckoned with.
But the slip, which Shanaka tried to row back immediately, may perhaps offer a glimpse into how the Sri Lanka camp feels they can get in Bangladesh’s heads. As the Asia Cup has lately become defined by its rivalries, there is plenty going on at the psychological level.
“There is an advantage in having been able to play with Shakib in the LPL,” Shanaka said. “The Bangladesh players are sometimes a bit too quick in the way they take decisions.”
The question that had prompted this answer had been about how playing in the same league might have given each national captain insights into how the other operated.
Shanaka, who paused after saying the previous sentence, went on to say the following: “I wasn’t able to learn a lot because he isn’t someone who speaks a lot. Although we played in the same team, we don’t share a lot. When there’s an Asia Cup coming up it’s better not to give your plans away.”
Elsewhere in the press conference, there were the normal appreciations of the opposition, as well as a knocking down of the idea that there was serious ill-will between these teams.
“The noise is outside,” Shanaka said when asked about how the teams felt about each other. “Between the teams there’s a good relationship. We can’t control the outside noise. It’s a good brotherhood. We have that respect.”
Shanaka also spoke about the injuries that have plagued Sri Lanka’s approach to this tournament. His team has essentially lost their entire first-choice attack aside from Maheesh Theekshana. Wanindu Hasaranga is out with a thigh strain, Dushmantha Chameera has a pectoral tear, Dilshan Madushanka has a tear in his obliques, and Lahiru Kumara has a side strain.
“We can’t stop injuries from happening,” Shanaka said. “Unfortunately it’s something that’s been happening to our team repeatedly. I don’t think there’s anything wrong in the way we train or in our effort. But I think we perform well under pressure. We have the team to be able to do that, particularly on the batting front. We have experienced players. I think we’ll be able to go far despite that pressure.”