Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are at opposite ends of the confidence spectrum as they face up in the Nidahas Trophy. Bangladesh haven’t won an international match since January 23, since when they have lost two ODIs, two Tests and three T20s on the trot. Sri Lanka on the other hand have looked like a different unit, following their successes in Bangladesh. Their five-wicket win over India showed where their confidence currently stands.
Their chase against India, in which the middle order latched on to the fast start made by the top order, was quite pleasing. Although Kusal Mendis fell cheaply, Kusal Perera struck a superb 66 off 37 balls before big hitters Dasun Shanaka and Thisara Perera rounded it off with precision. It might have been against a second-string India attack, but Sri Lanka were happy to beat them.
They would, however, be slightly worried about their bowlers. Akila Dananjaya went wicketless, and Nuwan Pradeep was carted around, which meant part-timers Jeevan Mendis and Danushka Gunathilaka had to share six overs. Their fast bowlers, including Thisara Perera, would be inclined to bowl short at the Bangladesh batsmen, given their moderate success using this length earlier this year.
Facing Sri Lanka’s short-ball barrage is one of several problems Bangladesh could face. Their 139 for 8 against India was not just sub-par, but a reflection of their mentality. They played out 68 dot balls as they mistimed several attempts to hit boundaries. Even Liton Das and Sabbir Rahman, who got out in the thirties, were guilty of eating up dot balls. Mushfiqur Rahim got out at the wrong time.
What will encourage Bangladesh would be their bowling, which looked slightly improved in the India game. Mustafizur Rahman, Rubel Hossain and Mehidy Hasan bowled well, as did Nazmul Islam, although he was underbowled. Having lost 13 of their last 14 T20Is, though, they will need to find ways to build on these small gains.
Sri Lanka: WWWLL (last five matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Having missed much of Sri Lanka’s tour of Bangladesh through injury, Kusal Perera stormed back into international cricket with a quickfire 66 against India. More fireworks will be expected on Saturday.
Soumya Sarkar was Bangladesh’s top scorer in T20 internationals in 2017, despite not holding on to his place in the Test and ODI teams. He has crossed 40 three times in his last five innings, and will be expected to carry that form forward.
Sri Lanka may switch Nuwan Pradeep with Suranga Lakmal to bolster their pace attack.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Danushka Gunathilaka, 2 Kusal Mendis, 3 Kusal Perera, 4 Dinesh Chandimal (capt & wk), 5 Upul Tharanga, 6 Dasun Shanaka, 7 Thisara Perera, 8 Jeevan Mendis, 9 Akila Dananjaya, 10 Dushmantha Chameera, 11 Nuwan Pradeep
Bangladesh have plenty to worry about but perhaps it is not their bowling, which could deter them from adding a seventh batsman to their line-up.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Soumya Sarkar, 3 Liton Das, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 5 Mahmudullah (capt), 6 Sabbir Rahman, 7 Mehidy Hasan, 8 Mustafizur Rahman, 9 Taskin Ahmed, 10 Rubel Hossain, 11 Nazmul Islam
Pitch and conditions
The pitches will get slower and more spin-friendly as the tournament goes on. There is a chance of showers in Colombo but the weather is expected to clear by 5pm.
Stats and trivia
Kusal Perera’s 66 in the last game was his eighth T20I fifty – he joined Kumar Sangakkara as the Sri Lankan with the most fifties in the format without scoring a hundred.
Tamim Iqbal has now gone 12 innings without a 50-plus score in T20Is, since scoring an unbeaten century against Oman at the 2016 World T20.
“It is a good wicket, so chasing 170-180 isn’t that hard. We have to bowl better, but I guess we should have scored more runs [in the previous game] too.”
Bangladesh fast bowler Taskin Ahmed