Sri Lanka in search of convincing performance
Thursday, February 26
Start time 1430 local (0330 GMT)
Bangladesh are a point above Sri Lanka and although the World Cup is still at a very early stage, it is hard to imagine both sides envisioning themselves in their respective positions after their first two matches.
Sri Lanka didn't look convincing for most of their match against Afghanistan, though they won by four wickets on the back of Mahela Jayawardene's century. They looked slow in the match against New Zealand in the tournament opener, and have also been hit by Jeevan Mendis' hamstring injury which has taken him out of the World Cup.
But Sri Lanka have a 37-4 record against Bangladesh in ODIs, and have nearly always dominated them. Last year they won close encounters in the three-match ODI series in Bangladesh, as well as their Asia Cup encounter. Though a couple of matches were close and Bangladesh had their moments, Sri Lanka prevailed. The last time they lost to Bangladesh was in 2013, but have never lost to them in a World Cup.
Bangladesh's preparations were nearly rocked by Mushfiqur Rahim getting knocked on his hand but it is only a bruise so the team's best batsman will be available. Al-Amin Hossain's exit has come as a shock to the squad as well, but captain Mashrafe Mortaza has said the episode is behind them.
Bangladesh's 105-run win over Afghanistan helped them establish their credentials early in the tournament, and the one point from the abandoned game against Australia was the luck they have been seeking since the start of last year. Now they have an opportunity to push their cause and look for a place in the tournament that is beyond only safety and respectability.
(last five matches, most recent first)
Sri Lanka: WLWLL
In the spotlight
In his short innings against Afghanistan, Soumya Sarkar showed he can adjust to the pace and bounce in Australia. Now he has to do it for longer in the coming matches, if he is to establish himself as Bangladesh's stable No. 3.
It is hard to look past the absolute dominance Kumar Sangakkara has over Bangladesh. Having made just 39 and 7 in the first two games in this World Cup, the sight of a Bangladeshi bowling attack might just whet his appetite.
Jeevan Mendis' hamstring tear means that Dushmantha Chameera, the tall pace bowler, has a chance to take his place.
Sri Lanka (possible): 1 Lahiru Thirimanne, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Dimuth Karunaratne, 5 Mahela Jayawardene, 6 Angelo Mathews (capt), 7 Thisara Perera, 8 Dushmantha Chameera, 9 Rangana Herath, 10 Lasith Malinga, 11 Suranga Lakmal
Given their usual struggle against Sri Lanka and the likely conditions at the MCG, Bangladesh could still choose to use eight batsmen and the three-man pace attack. Soumya Sarkar is likely to continue at No. 3.
Bangladesh (possible): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Anamul Haque, 3 Soumya Sarkar, 4 Mahmudullah, 5 Shakib Al Hasan, 6 Mushfiqur Rahim, 7 Sabbir Rahman, 8 Mominul Haque, 9 Mashrafe Mortaza, 10 Taskin Ahmed, 11 Rubel Hossain
Pitch and conditions
The team batting under lights may have to deal with extra pace and good carry, better, according to Bangladesh bowling coach Heath Streak, than what the batsmen may face in the afternoon session. There is very little chance of weather interrupting the game, with temperature forecast to be in the mid-twenties throughout the day.
Stats and trivia
- Kumar Sangakkara will become the third Sri Lankan after Mahela Jayawardene and Sanath Jayasuriya to play 400 ODIs, and the fourth overall.
- This is Bangladesh's first match at the MCG while Sri Lanka have won six out of their 17 ODIs here.
- Mahela Jayawardene is 91 runs short of becoming Sri Lanka's highest run-scorer in World Cups, only behind Sanath Jayasuriya's 1165 runs.
"It looks to me to be a good wicket. We have seen the India-South Africa match as well. Looks like it will be a good batting track. It will be fine. It will be nice."
Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza.
"If we click as a group, I think we can do wonders. We just need to click."
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84