25 February 2015
Bangladesh v Sri Lanka Preview, Match 18, Melbourne
Bangladesh starts the match above Sri Lanka on the Pool A points table
Sri Lanka needs a spark, the all-important big win, that can ignite its campaign.
While the record is impressive, Sri Lanka will be wary. A look at the Pool A table suggests that Bangladesh has been the ‘better’ side. They are third, behind New Zealand and Australia, thanks largely to a 105-run win against Afghanistan and the washout against Australia in Brisbane, which earned it a point.
Sri Lanka, meanwhile, was at the receiving end of New Zealand’s exuberance in the World Cup opener, losing by 98 runs. It then got more than a scare before eventually winning by four wickets against Afghanistan, with just ten balls remaining, thanks largely to Mahela Jayawardena’s century.
“What we need to learn is to dominate from ball one and stay in the game till the end,” said Angelo Mathews, the Sri Lanka captain, on Wednesday.
For that to happen, Sri Lanka needs both batting and bowling to click in tandem. In its two games so far, that hasn’t happened. Against New Zealand, the bowlers gave away 331 runs and the batsmen managed just 233 in reply. In the next match, the less-experienced Afghan batsmen were restricted to 232, but Sri Lanka conceded 23 runs in extras, including 16 wides and a no-ball. The top order then crumbled and Sri Lanka was reduced to 18 for 3 before Jayawardena steadied the ship with Mathews, and Thisara Perera then provided the finishing touches.
What was encouraging for Sri Lanka was that Lasith Malinga was finally amongst the wickets, having returned from ankle surgery for the World Cup. He nipped out the Afghanistan middle order to return 3 for 41, proof that his return to form and fitness is key for Sri Lanka’s plans.
“Lasith (Malinga) is working extremely hard at the nets,” said Mathews. “One has to be at the peak when the quarterfinals come, and he and the others are working towards that.”
Bangladesh, meanwhile, heads into the game on the back of an extended break. It didn’t have it tough against Afghanistan, its only real match of the tournament, and the 105-run win came on the back of starring performances from their big players – Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mashrafe Mortaza.
Following the Cyclone Marcia-forced washout, it would, hopefully, have used the break to pinpoint the reasons for its poor record against Sri Lanka. In February last year, Sri Lanka blanked Bangladesh 3-0 in an ODI series in Bangladesh, winning each match quite comfortably. Then, in the Asia Cup clash that followed in Mirpur, Sri Lanka edged a three-wicket victory.
In the build up to this match, Bangladesh’s preparations were dealt a blow when Mushfiqur took a knock on his hand during training. However, he is expected to play come Thursday.
The team, however, isn’t reading too much into past records. “If we lost to Sri Lanka in the past it meant we did not play those games well, it's as simple as that,” said Mortaza, the captain. “If we do well there is no reason why we can't beat them.
“We have defeated Sri Lanka in recent times and can do so again if we play to our potential. We are familiar with their players, who have a lot of experience. But then it takes just one ball to get a batsman out. The important thing is to stick to our plans.”
Bangladesh suffered a bit of a distraction in the lead-up when Al-Amin Hossain, the paceman, was sent home after breaching team rules, and Shafiul Islam was named his replacement. Sri Lanka, meanwhile, will be without Jeevan Mendis, the allrounder, for the rest of the campaign after he suffered a hamstring injury during training.
Bangladesh must be itching to stay where it is on the points table and Sri Lanka will be desperate to go past it. These are crucial clashes in terms of the quarter-final positions and with sterner tests to come, both teams know a win on Thursday is imperative.
Sri Lanka: Tillakaratne Dilshan, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Mahela Jayawardene, Dimuth Karunaratne, Angelo Mathews (capt), Rangana Herath, Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera, Dinesh Chandimal, Nuwan Kulasekara, Thisara Perera, Sachithra Senanayake.
Bangladesh: Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), Anamul Haque, Arafat Sunny, Mahmudullah, Mominul Haque, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Nasir Hossain, Rubel Hossain, Sabbir Rahman, Shafiul Islam, Shakib Al Hasan, Soumya Sarkar, Tajiul Islam, Tamim Iqbal, Taskin Ahmed.
South Africa v West Indies Preview, Match 19, Sydney
Ireland stretched by UAE before winning thriller