The grand commencement of the 2023 Asia Cup is set to unfold in Pakistan on August 30th, featuring an extravagant spectacle as the host nation contends against a qualifying team. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka, who share the role of co-hosts through an innovative hybrid model designed to accommodate India’s participation without playing in Pakistan, is scheduled to hold their inaugural match on the subsequent day at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium.
Nevertheless, just prior to the tournament’s inauguration, a COVID-19 crisis has cast a shadow over the Asia Cup. The reigning champions, Sri Lanka, have been dealt a significant setback merely five days before the Asia Cup’s commencement. Four players face uncertainty in their participation due to injuries and COVID-19 complications.
Dushamantha Chameera, the fast bowler, is highly likely to be excluded from the tournament due to a shoulder injury sustained during the recently concluded Lanka Premier League (LPL). Meanwhile, leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga, who suffered a thigh ailment before the LPL final, could potentially miss a minimum of two matches in the tournament, as reported by ESPNCricinfo.
Compounding Sri Lanka’s woes are the positive COVID-19 tests for the batsmen Kusal Perera and Avishka Fernando. Both key players are presently under medical observation, and their inclusion in the Sri Lankan squad hinges on their recovery timeline. The report indicates that both players displayed symptoms towards the latter stages of the LPL tournament.
Their selection for the Asia Cup squad will be contingent upon returning negative test results. Avishka Fernando has been absent from ODI action since January due to an injury, while Kusal Perera’s absence from the ODI squad dates back to 2021, primarily due to a combination of subpar performance and injury struggles.
The most significant setback for Sri Lanka is the injury to Hasaranga, who showcased exceptional form in the LPL, excelling as both a wicket-taker and a run-scorer. While there are potential replacements for Chameera in the form of Dilshan Madushanka, Kasun Rajitha, and Asitha Fernando, Hasaranga’s absence leaves an irreplaceable void in the Sri Lankan side.
Sri Lanka’s journey in the Asia Cup will commence with a match against Bangladesh on August 31st at Pallekele. Their second group-stage encounter is scheduled to take place at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium on September 5th.