Dasun Shanaka cherishes ‘amazing’ fans as Sri Lanka seek back-to-back Asia Cup titles

Sri Lanka are the team you want to love, and why not? In 16 men’s Asia Cups – across ODIs and T20Is – they have made 12 finals and won six.

Save for the grandstand, all other stands have been sold out in the lead-up to the finalAssociated Press

“It’s not a new thing for Sri Lankan fans,” Shanaka said ahead of the Asia Cup final against India. “After a match finishes, I get a lot of messages: ‘Why [do] you guys always give us heart attacks?’. We were very emotional [on qualifying for the final] – and the crowd as well. It is a big thing for us to come to the final in two consecutive years.”

Save for the grandstand that is priced at LKR 40,000 (approx. US $124), the tickets for the other stands have been sold out in the lead-up to the final.

But while things look hunky-dory as far as Sri Lanka’s results are concerned – they were on a run of 13 consecutive ODI wins and had bowled the opposition out in 14 successive matches before the slip up against India – Shanaka’s form with the bat hasn’t been fine. He last crossed fifty in January, when he scored 108 not out against India. Since that innings, he has averaged a mere 10 in 16 innings, with a strike rate of only 72.46.

But Shanaka seems unfazed. “I don’t compare my batting when I go to lead the team,” he said. “My decision-making is more important than being a batsman in the middle. I am not saying batting is not important, but I need to forget whatever happened with the bat.

“I need to be calm and cool whenever the decisions need to be taken. I see myself most of the time as someone who makes good decisions even after failing with the bat, which has helped the team overcome the problems we had. I must thank the selectors for keeping trust in me. They and the coaching staff back me and give me confidence to be that leader to deliver the maximum out of me.”

Shanaka has a chance to add another Asia Cup title in Sri Lanka’s kitty to draw level with India for most titles.