Defending Asia Cup champions Sri Lanka and ODI powerhouse Bangladesh are facing significant player absences as they prepare to clash in the upcoming tournament. Injuries and unforeseen circumstances have left both teams grappling with depleted squads, adding an element of uncertainty to the competition.
Sri Lanka, once a dominant force in cricket, has been battling inconsistencies in recent years. However, they clinched the Asia Cup title in the previous edition and exhibited their prowess by sweeping the World Cup Qualifier not long ago. Unfortunately, injuries have taken a heavy toll on their squad, particularly their bowling attack. The list of unavailable players reads like a who’s-who of their first-choice bowlers, including Dushmantha Chameera, Lahiru Kumara, Dilshan Madushanka, and Wanindu Hasaranga. This absence of firepower means Sri Lanka must now heavily rely on their batsmen to secure victories, a task they’ve struggled with, even during their successful World Cup Qualifier campaign.
Bangladesh, on the other hand, has been making strides in the world of ODI cricket, boasting a balanced blend of youthful talent and experienced players. However, their preparation for the tournament has been marred by player issues, including the sudden ruling out of Litton Das on the eve of the competition. Additionally, the team has faced a captaincy saga involving Tamim Iqbal, adding to the off-field drama. While Bangladesh showcased their prowess by being a consistent ODI force, a recent series defeat against Afghanistan serves as a reminder of their vulnerability.
The upcoming match is set to take place in Pallekele, where conditions are expected to favor spinners. This poses a potential advantage for Bangladesh, as they possess a strong spinning unit. Despite Sri Lanka having the home advantage, the dynamic nature of limited-overs cricket makes Bangladesh potential marginal favorites in the encounter.
- Sri Lanka: WWWWW (last five completed ODIs, most recent first)
- Bangladesh: WLLWW
Players in the Spotlight
- Mehidy Hasan Miraz (Bangladesh): While primarily known for his offspin, Mehidy’s recent performances with the bat have transformed him into an all-round asset for Bangladesh. His ability to turn the game with both bat and ball makes him a genuine gamechanger.
- Kusal Mendis (Sri Lanka): Mendis has been pivotal for Sri Lanka’s batting, anchoring the innings before launching into aggressive strokes. With the team’s bowling strength compromised, his form at the top will be crucial for Sri Lanka’s success.
- Kusal Perera, who recovered from Covid-19, is a contender for Sri Lanka’s starting XI. However, he hasn’t played an ODI for over two years. In the absence of Hasaranga, Dushan Hemantha and Dunith Wellalage vie for selection.
Sri Lanka XI (probable): 1 Dimuth Karunaratne, 2 Pathum Nissanka, 3 Kusal Mendis (wk), 4 Sadeera Samarawickrama, 5 Charith Asalanka, 6 Dhananjaya de Silva, 7 Dasun Shanaka (capt), 8 Dushan Hemantha/Dunith Wellalage, 9 Maheesh Theekshana, 10 Binura Fernando, 11 Kasun Rajitha
Bangladesh XI (probable): 1 Mohammad Naim, 2 Tanzid Hasan/Anamul Haque, 3 Najmul Hossain Shanto, 4 Shakib Al Hasan (capt), 5 Towhid Hridoy, 6 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 7 Afif Hossain, 8 Mehidy Hasan Miraz, 9 Taskin Ahmed, 10 Hasan Mahmud, 11 Shoriful Islam
Pitch and Conditions
The Pallekele pitch has proven to be unpredictable, with bowlers who can vary their pace being rewarded. While batting sometimes gets easier under lights, the conditions are expected to be hot and humid, with a possibility of rain.
Stats and Trivia
- Bangladesh has played only one ODI in Pallekele, which they won against Sri Lanka in 2013.
- Sri Lanka holds the second-highest win percentage against Bangladesh in ODIs (81.63%), with only Pakistan having a higher percentage (86.48%). However, Sri Lanka has lost four of their last ten matches against Bangladesh.