Sri Lanka's young team are good enough to be competitive in the one-day Tri-Nation Tournament, their coach Trevor Bayliss said yesterday. Sri Lanka, who face hosts Bangladesh in the opening match of the tournament today, made sweeping changes to their squad following their defeat by India last month. Batsmen Sanath Jayasuriya and Chamara Kapugedera, fast bowler Lasith Malinga and spinner Ajantha Mendis were dropped while batsman Mahela Jayawardene, all-rounder Angelo Mathews and bowlers Muttiah Muralitharan and Dilhara Fernando are injured.
"We had a number of injuries in India which forced us into seeing some of the young players that have been close to the team for long years," said Bayliss. "We are very happy with the way they were performing in the last few games. "It has brought some youthful enthusiasm to the team and we are looking forward to see how they develop over the coming month and years," he said. "They may be lacking a little bit of experience. But the more games they play the more they will be experienced.
"If we play good cricket we have a good chance of winning." And Bayliss is not worried about the absence of spinners Muralitharan and Mendis. "Obviously, we have come from India and the young Suraj Randiv is probably the best spinner we had on the tour," Bayliss said. "He bowled exceptionally well against India in his first two or three games. "So we are very happy the way he is coming to international cricket.
"Obviously Malinga Bandara has been around for a number of years playing second fiddle to Murali and Mendis. He gets another opportunity." "The spin bowling all-rounder Muthumudalige Pushpakumara made his debut in India. So we are quite happy with the depth we have in our bowling. They are very young and inexperienced but they are talented." Meanwhile, the Bangladesh coach Jamie Siddons is pleased with how his side have developed in the past year.
The Australian, who took charge of the team in 2007, told Cricinfo: "We are still developing into a competitive team. "I believe we are still maybe two years from reaching our potential with this group but are capable of troubling most sides at the moment. "We have two or three match-winners in our side, and have others who can hold their own in world cricket." The emergence of new players, Siddons believes, has taken the pressure off batsman Mohammad Ashraful.
"Not long after I arrived I realised the team and the country were relying on Ashraful to perform everytime for us," he said. "I was determined to put most of my energy into developing others so that Ashraful would not feel all that pressure, and so we could win matches even if he did not fire. "I can tell you very confidently that we are not just about Ashraful anymore. "Keep an eye on Shakib, Raqibul Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah, and Tamim Iqbal.
"They are the future. I hope Ashraful will get it right soon, he is a diamond in the rough for us." * With agencies