Bangladesh, boosted by their record win in the previous encounter against Sri Lanka and with ace all-rounder Shakib al Hasan returning to the fold will take on the host in a do-or-die affair in the Nidahas T20I tri-nation series at R Premadasa Cricket Stadium Friday. The sides two have equal points and will like to walk off the field with a win and set up a final date with former world T20 champion India Sunday at the same venue.
The Tigers are coming into the game with sweet memories from the weekend when they had pulled off a historic victory chasing down 215 runs. The mission was accomplished through a combined batting effort led by the in-form wicketkeeper-batsman Mushfiqur Rahim's unbeaten 72 off just 35 deliveries. The platform was laid by the openers in the shape of Tamim Iqbal and Liton Das, who was prompted to the top just the night before. The duo enabled the side to thwart the Sri Lanka attack in the powerplay and this largely paved the way for victory later on.
The Tigers have also been boosted after regular T20I captain Shakib joined the side having recovered from a finger injury. The BCB Thursday made a surprise announcement, including the left-arm all-rounder, who joined the team in Colombo ahead of the crucial fixture against Sri Lanka. Shakib's availability to play however, will only be confirmed Friday ahead of the game after a fitness test. Inclusion of the star cricketer will also mean the Bangladesh cricketers will have to a make a quick adaptation to new leadership in the dressing room. During Shakib's absence, all-rounder Mahmudullah had run the show for Bangladesh and had set his own pace and atmosphere which will perhaps change with Shakib taking back the driving seat.
The Bangladesh bowlers will however, have to come regrouped and sharpen up in order to execute the plans. In their last game against Sri Lanka, the bowlers were poor and thus saw the opposition put on a humongous total on the board for Bangladesh to chase. The Bangladesh batsmen though came up trumps at just the right time.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka are also dealing with a similar situation to that of Bangladesh, but their recent successes should keep them ahead of the Tigers. The Nidahas series host will depend on their batting, which has been effective with the in-form Kusal Mendis posting good starts at the top, while the likes of batsmen Kusal Perera, Upul Tharanga, Thisara Perera and Dasun Shanaka have also contributed to the team’s cause.
The side will like to look improve with the ball. The home side’s pacers Dushmantha Chameera and Nuwan Pradeep were found puzzled at crucial times and if the same occurs again, Akila Dananjaya and Thisara will be expected to take control of the situation.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Right-handed batsman Liton turned out to be a wonder when Bangladesh took on Sri Lanka previously in the Nidahas T20I tri-nation series. The overnight strategy to put Liton to open alongside the left-handed Tamim Iqbal, instead of regular opener Soumya Sarkar, unsettled the Sri Lanka bowling attack, in the shape of spinners Akila Dananjaya and Danushka Gunathilaka. The Tigers had chased down a record 215 runs to win the game by five wickets. Now going into the do-or-die affair with Sri Lanka Friday, Bangladesh will expect the same tactics from the opposition, thus keeping Liton's place as an opener intact. However, there will be a slight change in the scenario - the opposition will be on their toes already when he takes his mark on the crease.
Dananjaya was not able to live upto the expectation in the first two games of the Nidahas series. The Sri Lanka spinner went wicket-less conceding 37 and 36 runs against India and Bangladesh respectively. Dananjaya however, bounced back hard Wednesday when his side took on India for the second time in the series. Sri Lanka could not avoid a defeat but Dananjaya had put on a good show taking two wickets for 19 runs to recover some confidence. Now standing in front of a crucial encounter against Bangladesh, Dananjaya will be expected to carry the momentum forward and break the opposition’s plan to block him with a left and right batting combination - Tamim opening the innings alongside Liton - which the Sri Lanka bowler had failed to implement in the previous encounter.
Head to head
T20Is played - 10
Wins - Bangladesh (3), Sri Lanka (7)
Win % - Bangladesh (30), Sri Lanka (70)
Most runs - Mahmudullah (Bangladesh, 218), Kusal Perera (Sri Lanka, 304)
HS - Sabbir Rahman (Bangladesh, 80), Kusal (77)
Most wickets - Shakib al Hasan (Bangladesh, 9), Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka, 11)
BBI - Mustafizur Rahman (Bangladesh, 4/21), Malinga (3/20)