UAE upbeat despite returning Sri Lanka quartet


United Arab Emirates captain Amjad Javed is upbeat about his side's chances of starting the Asia Cup with victory, despite facing defending champions Sri Lanka first.

After victories over Afghanistan, Oman and Hong Kong in the qualifying competition, UAE enter the group stage for only the third time and their first appearance since 2008.

UAE's performances so far have suggested they could spring an upset at some point in the tournament, which has switched to a Twenty20 format for 2016 - the minnows thrived with the bat as they racked up 495 runs over the three qualifiers.

Mohammad Shahzad and Mohammad Usman stood out, but skipper Javed is confident any member of his side can step up and help them cause an upset in Dhaka.

"It is simple: go and play your natural game, believe in yourself, and back your ability," he told a news conference.

"I'm a really lucky captain in that I have more match-winners in my team. Some teams only have one. I have 11, and three others sitting outside waiting for their turn."

While his confidence is admirable, UAE face a daunting challenge against the five-time champions, who have never lost to an associate member in the shortest form of the game.

However, Sri Lanka come into the match in surprisingly poor form in 20 overs - Graham Ford's side have lost seven of their last 10 matches, failing to win any of their last four series.

Given their frustrating form, Sri Lanka's morale has been boosted by the return of four key players to the squad.

Leading that quartet is captain Lasith Malinga - the swing bowler back involved with Sri Lanka for the first time since November due to a knee injury.

His inclusion could be crucial given his record in the 20-over game, with the 32-year-old having taken 74 wickets at 21.02 in his 61 T20 internationals.

The skipper is joined by Angelo Mathews, Rangana Herath and Nuwan Kulasekara as part of a well-balanced squad that also has a World Twenty20 title to defend in the near future.

As well as that experience, coach Graham Ford has some fresh faces to test, with Dasun Shanaka, Jeffrey Vandersay, Shehan Jayasuriya and Milinda Siriwardana only having 21 T20 caps between them.