High-flying Sri Lanka take on stuttering Bangladesh

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23 Oct 2021 | 02:59 PM
authorSamarnath Soory

High-flying Sri Lanka take on stuttering Bangladesh

Bangladesh need to address more than few issues to be able to beat Sri Lanka who are full of confidence

Bangladesh skipper Mahmudullah was emotional after they qualified for the Super 12s. He urged people to look at his team as human beings and hit back at the online vitriol which was targeted at their commitment to the country. However, he was realistic about the team’s apparent weaknesses that needed to be addressed.

“The two things we are concerned about are the first six overs with the bat and ball. If we can get a good start, we can capitalise on it and that is how we have been building up wins. We need to focus on those areas again and try to compete hard,” he said.

So far in the tournament, Bangladesh have done poorly in the powerplay scoring just 99 runs from three innings and lost five wickets. Their top-order has not clicked so far scoring at a strike rate of 107.4. Finding the right opening pair has been a well-documented problem for the Tigers and the likes of Liton Das and Soumya Sarkar have done little to ease it. Mohammad Naim’s 64 against Oman helped lifted the team’s spirits but a second-ball duck against Papua New Guinea has brought the issue to square one. 

Their death over bowling has been the most glaring issue since the first game where they shipped 53 runs off the last five to Scotland. From three games so far, Bangladesh have conceded at a rate of 8.5 runs per over which is a big jump from 5.1 RPO in the middle overs and 5.7 in the Powerplay. Mustafizur Rahman looked good against Oman but was the most expensive bowler in a wicketless game against PNG.

However, the return to form for Shakib al Hasan is the biggest positive as the star all-rounder claimed seven wickets and scored 88 runs in the last two matches. Against Sri Lanka, Bangladesh will need their other players to step up to match up to their opponents who have peeked superbly with every match.

Since the fightback from Pathum Nissanka and Wanindu Hasaranga against Ireland where they added 123 have clearly sparked a change in Dasun Shanaka’s team who seem to be firing on all cylinders. The swagger of their performance against the Netherlands was not down to just poor shot-making but bowling wicket-taking deliveries consistently. 

Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara have been hitting the deck hard while Hasaranga, Maheesh Theekshana and Chamika Karunaratne reaped rewards with disciplined bowling. Theekshana, who came into the tournament as a mystery spinner, has maintained his tag with his flight and trajectory and is in contention with Shakib for the leading wicket-taker with eight wickets from three games. Skipper Shanaka and Asalanka haven’t bowled at all which speaks volumes of Sri Lanka’s confidence in their bowling unit.

Besides Hasaranga’s all-round heroics, Kusal Perera seems to have regained his touch after being sidelined for four months by guiding them to an eight-wicket against the Dutch. However, Charith Asalanka is yet to make a mark after replacing the experienced Dinesh Chandimal in the playing XI. Bhanuka Rajapaksa, despite scoring an unbeaten 42 against Oman, has been struggling with his attacking choices for a while now.

The last time the two sides faced off in a T20I was in 2018 in which Bangladesh chased down 160 with two wickets in hand and a ball remaining. The pitch at Sharjah is a total opposite of the RPS on that day, as the slow nature of the surface will put the batters’ adaptability to the biggest test. Toss is going to be crucial as the team batting second had won eight of the last 10 matches at the venue.

In a recent interview with Cricket.com, West Indies legend Brian Lara spoke about best batting strategy at Sharjah.

“The team that's going to hold to their wickets for the last five overs is going to do well. If they think they'll bat aggressively throughout, they'll run into trouble,” he said.

Namibia had done in the previous match to knock Ireland out which is something Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will also look to replicate.

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Sri Lanka vs BangladeshICC World Twenty20, 2021Sri LankaBangladeshWanindu Hasaranga

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