India may have an edge over Sri Lanka on paper, but the home team captain Dasun Shanaka believes it will be an even contest between the sides.
Interacting with the scribes on the eve of the limited-overs series against India, Shanaka – who replaced injured Kusal Janith Perera as the skipper – admitted that this series will be a learning experience for the young Sri Lankan team.
“Both teams will start evenly because even they have got new players coming up. We all know they (the Indian cricketers) have played the IPL, but still (not many) have played international cricket. Both teams have even chances,” Shanaka said.
The Indian team is led by the seasoned Shikhar Dhawan and there are six uncapped players in the side – who have mostly been chosen based on their performances in the Indian Premier League and domestic cricket.
“The experience will be very good, playing against one of the top teams in the world. It will be very good to play against India at this point because we can access the levels we are in. It will be a good tournament for us,” Shanaka said.
Despite being in the international arena for five years, consistency has been a concern for the 29-year-old all-rounder. While he knows that captaincy will mean more responsibility, Dasun is ready to bowl a few overs in the series, if needed.
While the on-field performance has not been satisfactory for Sri Lanka in the series against England, off-field issues too have had an impact on the side. Three cricketers were suspended for bio-bubble breach and a couple of support staff tested positive for COVID-19 after reaching Colombo, which led to the series against India being pushed back by a few days.
But Shanaka does not want to think too much about it. “It is always challenging. In international cricket, outside (off the field) issues do matter, but at the end of the day, we have to get there and perform as a team. That’s the main concern we have. I am sure the boys will look on to it,” he said.
Sri Lanka named a rather inexperienced squad late on Friday and Shanaka feels that the Indian team will find it a bit challenging to face the rookie youngsters. “We will have a slight advantage because they have not seen these guys at the international level. I feel they have to prepare well for these youngsters.”
Both the ODI and the T20I series will be played at the R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.