Chandimal doubtful for Asia Cup; Dananjaya to miss at least two games

Akila Dananjaya lets out a roar Associated Press

Akila Dananjaya is set to miss at least the first two games of the Asia Cup as he awaits the birth of his first child. Dinesh Chandimal meanwhile is in doubt after sustaining a hairline fracture on the middle finger of his right hand during Sri Lanka's recently-concluded domestic T20 tournament.

Sri Lanka will face Bangladesh in the tournament opener on September 15, with their next game set for September 17 against Afghanistan. The absence of Dananjaya is particularly a blow, with the offspinner being among Sri Lanka's main threats in the shorter formats of the game, having also regularly taken up new-ball duties in the crucial Powerplay period.

With the top two teams from each groups of three making it through to the Super Four stage, the truncated nature of the tournament leaves little margin for error and Sri Lanka will be hoping the offspin of Dilruwan Perera and the return of Lasith Malinga will help offset Dananjaya's unavailability.

Chandimal will likely be replaced by Niroshan Dickwella who is on standby after missing out on the initial squad. Dickwella was also dropped for the one-off T20 against South Africa at home last month when Chandimal had returned from the ICC-imposed spirit-of-cricket suspension.

Dickwella's omission had in fact come as a surprise, having been one of the few Sri Lankan batsmen to consistently trouble South Africa's bowlers in that series. He had opened the innings throughout the ODIs, scoring 158 runs at an average of 31.60 and a strike rate of 82.72 - only Kusal Perera and Angelo Mathews had performed better. However, he put up a sub-par display in Sri Lanka's domestic T20 tournament post the South Africa series, where he scored just 24 runs in four outings.

The selectors expect to know more about Chandimal's injury in the coming week.