We will hit the ground running - Sangakkara
Kumar Sangakkara, the Sri Lankan captain, is confident his team will pull off a hat-trick of Asia Cup titles ahead of Thursday's final against India in Dambulla. Sri Lanka enter the final having won all three league games, which included a convincing seven-wicket victory against India on Tuesday. They won the previous two Asia Cup tournaments in 2008 and 2004 and are aiming for their fifth title.
"A final is a final and we are going to hit the ground running and really try and win it," Sangakkara said. "That's all up to us and how we perform. Winning a final, and especially the Asia Cup at home, is a special thing. It's going to really inspire us."
Sri Lanka tested their bench strength in the dead rubber against India, and the performance of Farveez Maharoof in his second game of the series gave the selectors a problem of plenty before the final. "It's a good situation to be in," Sangakkara said. "We will be thrashing a few issues out with the selectors to see what the best eleven is going to be. We have got to take that match in isolation. We are not going to look too far behind us but just got to focus on picking the best squad for that one game."
Sri Lanka beat India by 100 runs to win the Asia Cup in 2008. Sanath Jayasuriya and Ajantha Mendis were the stars in that game but they are not part of the present squad. Sangakkara, however, was confident Sri Lanka have the personnel to pull off a victory. "In the last one Jayasuriya and Mendis were fantastic in the final. We don't have them here today [but] we've got other players we hope will do similar things for us.
"We play as a unit and we stick together. Whether we win or lose we are going to come out very confident from this tournament. But if we keep performing like the way we have, we have a good chance of winning it."
The floodlights at the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium were criticised during the league stage and Sri Lanka, who batted first against Pakistan and Bangladesh, decided to test themselves under lights by chasing against India. "It was another step towards challenging ourselves to get a bit better and a bit tougher," Sangakkara said.
"The ball probably does a bit more under lights; you can't exactly get into a rhythm as a batsman and keep hitting the ball the same way. You have to really watch the ball very closely and, with the lights, that's not an easy task. The colour goes off the ball but I thought there was good value for shots on this ground. The outfield is pretty fast day or night. You just play a tighter game and bat for longer periods but still have a really positive outlook."
Sri Lanka enjoy an enviable record in ODIs at home, having won 61 of their last 90 games. "Our guys have shown a lot of character and really fought it out since Arjuna Ranatunga took us through the 1995-96 season in Australia," Sangakkara said. "He has made sure that there is a lot of toughening up in Sri Lanka cricket mentally and character-wise. That's paying dividends throughout the years and we can see a bit of it even now."