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Asia Cup win gave all Sri Lankans a boost – Sanga

by Rex Clementine

Former captain Kumar Sangakkara seems confident that the national cricket team has turned things around following their first multi-nation tournament win after eight years on Sunday. After a horrific start in the curtain-raiser of the competition, where they went down to Afghanistan, Sri Lanka did well to reach the finals in the process winning four games in a row.

By the time the final came by, everyone was predicting that the team that won the toss had a big advantage in the game. Pakistan won the toss and started off well reducing Sri Lanka to 58 for five, but then Dhananjaya de Silva, Wanindu Hasaranga and Chamika  Karunaratne batted around Bhanuka Rajapaksa to enable the team to 170 for six. Rajapaksa, whose fitness had been questioned in recent months, was  the hero finishing with an unbeaten 71, off 45 deliveries with six fours and three sixes.

Sri Lanka not only won a fifth game in a row to clinch the title but changed the trend of teams that winning the toss winning the contest in UAE.

“This Asia Cup victory by our cricketers is very special.  Young, inexperienced and not given much of a chance by so many, they played as one team,” Sangakkara, who was Man of the Match when Sri Lanka last won a multi-nation tournament  -2014 T-20 World Cup final against India – said.

The players credited the Asia Cup win to their fans, who have gone through immense hardships in recent months due to the economic crisis. Sangakkara echoed similar sentiments. “In the context of the past two years and the recent socio economic upheavals and crisis, they played for something more than a Trophy. They played for each and every Sri Lankan. All of us, the people and the country, needed a boost. A shot in the arm in terms of morale. The Sri Lankan cricket team delivered that in spades.”

Sangakkara was part of a high profile cricket committee that was appointed two years ago under the leadership of former  captain Aravinda de Silva to address cricket woes. The committee had recommended several measures to be implemented in order to get the national cricket team back on winning track and it seem those measures are paying off.

The Sri Lankan team will resume training shortly in preparation for the ICC T-20 World Cup. They will travel to Australia early next month and will be based in Melbourne. Sri Lanka play a warm-up game on the 10th of October in Melbourne to get their campaign underway. The former champions need to play a qualifying round to go through like the last time.

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