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Sri Lanka looks to Malinga to continue winning run

Bangladesh banking on batsmen to come good, will also count on home advantage

Sri Lanka looks to Malinga to continue winning run - Cricket News
Malinga celebrates one of the UAE wickets during the match.
The other day, Lasith Malinga confessed to being in the last stretch of his career, but in spite of coming back from injury on Thursday, against the United Arab Emirates, he celebrated with figures 4 for 26 in his first match at any level since November 11 last year.
 
Sri Lanka had put up 129 for 8, but with the UAE batsmen not having faced bowlers of the class of Nuwan Kulasekara, Rangana Herath and, especially, Malinga, regularly, it wasn't going to be an easy chase. And Malinga didn’t disappoint. UAE was 7 for 2 after the first over, an inswinger to the left-handed Rohan Mustafa and a slower yorker that castled the right-handed Mohammad Shahzad signalling Malinga’s latest coming. UAE’s chase was stuttering after that, but it did attempt a clawback. Enter Malinga again, two more wickets, and the game was over.
 
Bangladesh, who takes on Sri Lanka in the next Asia Cup 2016 fixture in Mirpur on Sunday (February 28), is a notch above UAE, as the team showed that the very next day, winning by 51 runs in their exchange. It also has more experience of facing Malinga than UAE, having encountered him four times in Twenty20 Internationals to date.
 
The last two of those matches were during a series in Chittagong just over two years back, and it has to be said that the home team dealt with the T20 star decently. Malinga did well – 1 for 34 and 3 for 20 in the two matches – and Bangladesh lost both games, but the first one by only two runs and the second by three wickets but off the last ball.
 
But the Malinga in the middle right now is a slightly different Malinga, a very determined Malinga, who has expressed a desire to do as much as he can at the fag end of his career for whichever team he turns out for. His four-for, Malinga said, came despite him bowling at “60-70%” of his ability.
 
Crucially, this Bangladesh team is a very different team as compared to that one as well, both in terms of personnel as well as performance. The batting in particular hasn't put up tall score in T20Is off late. The batsmen managed 121 for 7 against India while chasing 167, and put up 133 for 8 batting first against UAE.

 

Admittedly, the pitch conditions haven’t been conducive to strokeplay, and the Bangladesh batsmen aren’t the only ones to have struggled. But as Mashrafe Mortaza said after the UAE game. “I won’t disagree that we are not batting at our best. Even against India, we could have done better. We obviously haven’t played our best.”
 
At some level, the Sunday fixture will be one between two batting units that are looking to fire. Bangladesh’s bowling has also largely been good, a three-over stretch against India where it leaked 52 runs the only period where the bowlers faltered. But the big difference between Taskin-Al-Amin-Mustafizur–Mortaza and Malinga-Kulasekara-Herath-Chameera is experience.
 
As for the batting, the performance of Sabbir Rahman (44 in 32 balls) against India and Mohammad Mithun (47 in 41) and Mahmudullah (36 not out in 27) were heartening, while the opening stand of 68 runs Sri Lanka got from Dinesh Chandimal and Tillakaratne Dilshan was promising.
 
From the outside, Sri Lanka would have to be marked as the favourite. But a packed Sher-e-Bangla and many fans around the country would be hoping what transpires on the field is very different from what the scribbles on paper are. But if Malinga has his way, that might not happen.
 
Teams (from)
Bangladesh: Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), Abu Hider, Al-Amin Hossain, Arafat Sunny, Imrul Kayes, Mahmudullah, Mohammad Mithun, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mustafizur Rahman, Nasir Hossain, Nurul Hasan, Sabbir Rahman, Shakib Al Hasan, Soumya Sarkar, Taskin Ahmed.

Sri Lanka: Lasith Malinga (capt), Angelo Mathews, Dushmantha Chameera, Dinesh Chandimal, Niroshan Dickwella, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Rangana Herath, Shehan Jayasuriya, Chamara Kapugedara, Nuwan Kulasekara, Thisara Perera, Sachithra Senanayake, Dasun Shanaka, Milinda Siriwardena, Jeffrey Vandersay.

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