Sri Lanka head coach Chandika Hathurusingha ahead of their opening game of the Nidahas T20I tri-nation series against India said the opponent are the favourite for the tie, despite missing the service of their key players.
Host Sri Lanka will take on India in the first game of the tri-series at R Premadasa Cricket Stadium Tuesday.
The selection panel named Rohit Sharma the captain of youth-based India for the tri-series as they rested Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar following their 50-day long tour of South Africa. Despite India missing big name players, Hathurusingha said it would not affect the preparation and mind-set of the host going into the tournament.
"We can't control their (India team) selection. We are playing the India team so whoever they play on that day we prepare for them. If the stars are there it's good for the spectators, but unfortunately at this stage they've come with a different team. It doesn't mean that we are favourite. We want to start well," said Hathurusingha to the media at R Premadasa Stadium Monday.
Sri Lanka have redeemed themselves from a long run of poor shows through wins in the ODI tri-series and two-match Test and T20I series in their tour of Bangladesh earlier this year. However, the glory from the recent past will only last if Sri Lanka are able to get a good start in the shape of a win, said Hathurusingha.
"It will help if we start well again. Bangladesh series is in the past. Whether we bat or bowl, I reiterate we need to start well. That would help us to get the momentum in this tournament,” said Hathurusingha.
Sri Lanka have lost six consecutive T20Is against India and will face an uphill task at R Premadasa Stadium, a venue where they have lost 12 out of 14 games.