Dipping Sri Lanka face surging Bangladesh
Sunday, February 28, 2016
Start time 1930 local (1330 GMT)
When Sri Lanka were last in Bangladesh, in 2014, they seemed to be physically incapable of losing. Kumar Sangakkara spent so much time at the crease, the image of his backside is probably burned into wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim's retinas. Lahiru Thirimanne was plundering runs at the top of the order. Nuwan Kulasekara's inswing, and Lasith Malinga's yorkers were humming. Even matches that Sri Lanka should have lost, were somehow turned around - often by outrageous performances, occasionally by umpiring error.
2016 sees two very different teams preparing for the contest. Over the past year, Sri Lanka have sometimes seemed to be physically incapable of winning; habitually trading strong positions for plunging losses. Bangladesh, meanwhile, have taken on an irresistible underdog mien, not dissimilar to Sri Lanka's class of 1996. They are rising. They have unique talents, like Mustafizur Rahman and Soumya Sarkar. And they are led by talisman-warhorse Mashrafe Mortaza.
Some more experienced players in this Sri Lanka team have known only Bangla-bashing in their time. But they will know that this time, their buttocks are in danger of feeling the sting of the shoe, which might have switched feet.
The visitors will at least be pleased that Bangladesh's ODI dominance at home hasn't yet transferred to the shortest format. They will not be pleased that the hosts' victory over qualifiers UAE was more comprehensive than their own.
Bangladesh's cricket has often been unfavourably compared with Sri Lanka's, in the witless campaign to deride their Full Member status. On Sunday, we may get some idea as to whether Bangladesh have gained ground on Sri Lanka, at least in their own country, in the shortest format.
(last five completed matches, most recent first)
Sri Lanka WLLWL
Watch out for
A player who made promising starts, then got himself out, when Sri Lanka last toured, Mahmudullah has now matured into a matchwinner for Bangladesh. In this format, his offspin also adds a little balance to the side. He arrived at No. 6 on Friday, and massaged his team's total towards competitiveness, holding out until the final over to break into a sprint. His unbeaten 36 and 2 for 5, typified the kind of performance Bangladesh have now come to expect from Mahmudullah.
As Kusal Perera is out and his replacements are misfiring, Dinesh Chandimal may be Sri Lanka's last hope in the opening position. He often takes a little time to settle in, but has been known to clear the infield, on his good days. With Tillakaratne Dilshan often playing the quieter, longer innings as well, Chandimal may well have to hone his knack for hitting over the top during the Powerplay. He made a good start in his new role against UAE, but will face sterner bowling on Sunday.
Bangladesh are unlikely to make many changes because they are looking for stability in their batting line-up. Their bowling attack is also doing well, and may also stay unchanged.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Soumya Sarkar, 2 Mohammad Mithun, 3 Sabbir Rahman, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim, 5 Shakib Al Hasan, 6 Mahmudullah, 7 Nurul Hasan (wk), 8 Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), 9 Al-Amin Hossain, 10 Mustafizur Rahman, 11 Taskin Ahmed
Similarly, Sri Lanka are likely to trial their new-look top order again, and will probably back their experienced bowlers once more. However, there is some doubt over Lasith Malinga's knee which continues to trouble him despite the long break from international cricket. Sri Lanka will make a call on his availability on match day.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Dinesh Chandimal, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3 Milinda Siriwardana, 4 Dasun Shanaka, 5 Angelo Mathews, 6 Chamara Kapugedara, 7 Shehan Jayasuriya, 8 Nuwan Kulasekara, 9 Rangana Herath, 10 Dushmantha Chameera, 11 Lasith Malinga/ Thisara Perera
Pitch and conditions
Mirpur has seen low-scoring games so far in the main draw. The weather is expected to be good for this match.
Stats and trivia
- Bangladesh have not beaten Sri Lanka in four T20s so far.
- Lasith Malinga's economy rate of 6.43 against Bangladesh is his best against any Full Member side.
- Shakib Al Hasan needs 87 runs to become the first Bangladesh batsman to score 1000 in T20 internationals.
"Our confidence was slightly shaken after losing the first game but the win over UAE will certainly help us get that back. In fact, it will help us that we beat them convincingly, especially ahead of the next game against Sri Lanka."
Bangladesh batsman Sabbir Rahman on the team's confidence ahead of the game against Sri Lanka
"In this tournament it's very hard to say which team is the best. But we are always looking to maximise our strengths and our abilities."
Sri Lanka captain Lasith Malinga
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando