SL in trouble, Mathews under injury cloud
The securing of Chandika Hathurusingha to coach Sri Lanka was seen as a boon for an under fire cricket board, and his no-nonsense approach to training, attention to detail, and penchant for data analysis has gained him a litany of admirers. There is also the small matter of his three-year stint with Bangladesh, which saw the team achieve unprecedented success, most notably home series wins against India, Pakistan, South Africa*.
In that sense, the fact that Sri Lanka go into this clash with Bangladesh - a team they have lost to rarely - as underdogs speaks both towards Hathurusingha's credentials while at the same time providing a genuine test of his credentials.
On Wednesday night, Sri Lanka's core issues were on display for all to see; a largely impotent bowling line-up, suspect fielding, and an inconsistent middle order all came together to ensure they lost their third straight ODI to Zimbabwe. That said there were some positives, such as the form of Thisara Perera - with both bat and ball - and the devastating return to form of Kusal Perera. There was also one big negative. The captain Angelo Mathews is struggling with hamstring problems again - issues which may see him miss more than just one game.
For Bangladesh, the team got the new year off to the ideal start with an efficient dispatch of Zimbabwe in the opening ODI, while Shakib Al Hasan's excellent all-round display, and an even spread of wickets among the bowling unit will hold the team in good stead ahead of the Sri Lanka game. However, this match will definitely have more meaning than most for Bangladesh, a team certainly still smarting from Hathurusingha's sudden departure less than two years out from a World Cup. Expect fireworks.
Sri Lanka: LLLWL
In the spotlight
If Kusal Perera had spent another 30 minutes at the crease on Wednesday evening, Sri Lanka would probably have beaten Zimbabwe. Instead, he got out for 80 and the rest of the batting line-up crumbled. If he gets set again against Bangladesh, Kusal would have to bat deeper into the innings.
The Bangladesh top-order is a tough place to break into these days so Anamul Haque would be expected to put in a better effort in his second game back in the team after nearly three years.
Official word is that a decision on Mathews' availability will be taken on the day of the game, with Niroshan Dickwella likely to replace him if he fails the fitness test. Dinesh Chandimal and Thisara Perera are possible stand-in captains.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Upul Tharanga, 2 Kusal Perera, 3 Dinesh Chandimal (wk), 4 Angelo Mathews/ Niroshan Dickwella, 5 Kusal Mendis, 6 Asela Gunaratne, 7 Thisara Perera, 8 Wanindu Hasaranga, 9 Suranga Lakmal, 10 Akila Dhananjaya, 11 Dushmantha Chameera
Bangladesh is unlikely to change a winning line-up.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Anamul Haque, 3 Shakib Al Hasan, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 5 Mahmudullah, 6 Nasir Hossain, 7 Sabbir Rahman, 8 Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), 9 Sunzamul Islam, 10 Mustafizur Rahman, 11 Rubel Hossain
Pitch and conditions
The good news is that the cold spell is ending in Dhaka which would mean less softness in the pitches and better batting conditions in the first half of the game.
Stats and trivia
- Tamim Iqbal is 126 runs away from becoming the highest run-getter at a single venue. Currently Sanath Jayasuriya is on top of the list, having made 2,514 runs at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.
- Provided he passes fit, Mathews is set to become the fourth Sri Lankan captain to complete 100 ODIs. Arjuna Ranatunga leads the list with 193 ODIs, followed by Mahela Jayawardene and Jayasuriya.
"Bangladesh have beaten all the top teams at home in the last two years. It will be tough and challenging. We can't play like today. We were not up to the standards today."
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews about taking on the home side after Wednesday's loss to Zimbabwe.
"[Chandika Hathurusingha] is a very good coach, but as you saw on Monday, it is Tamim Iqbal who scores runs, Shakib Al Hasan who takes wickets. Chandika [Hathurusingha] can't score runs or take wickets."
Richard Halsall, Bangladesh's interim head coach, tries to shut down talk about Chandika Hathurusingha facing his previous team.
*18.00 GMT The story had incorrectly stated that Bangladesh had secured a series win over England at home.