Chance for Bangladesh to save face
With the series decided 2-0 in Sri Lanka's favour, the third and final one-day international at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on Wednesday may seem like a pointless exercise but it's a formality that needs to be completed. If only to give Bangladesh a shot at redemption.
After the 3-0 rout in the Tests, the one thing Bangladesh had to keep them going was their improved standing as a one-day team, thanks largely to their best-ever World Cup performance. Mashrafe Mortaza had remarked that they were a far better one-day side and there were signs of that spirit in the first ODI, when they restricted Sri Lanka to 234. Their supporters would have even entertained thoughts of an upset when the openers added 45 in 11 overs.
That was before Dilhara Fernando struck and the batting came apart with five wickets going down for 11 runs, laying the template for yet another Sri Lankan win. Overcast skies, ferocious seam bowling by Lasith Malinga and a penetrative spell from Sanath Jayasuriya sent Bangladesh crashing to just 137 in the second one-dayer at Premadasa.
Bangladesh's batting woes are yet to be solved and Mohammad Ashraful, the captain, was only stating the obvious when he spoke after the second match. "We can't give any excuses for this kind of total," Ashraful said. "I must say our batting was miserable. But if we could manage a total of 200 runs than it could have been a different story."
Shaun Williams, the coach, remarked on the batsmen's inablility to cope with the extra bounce and movement dished out by Malinga and Farveez Maharoof. Aftab Ahmed and Ashraful averted a possible mid-innings collapse with a 61-run stand but it was barely enough as the lower order caved in.
Bangladesh made just one change to the line-up in the second ODI and it wouldn't hurt to try out the reserve players tomorrow. Middle-order bat Tushar Imran failed in both outings, scoring just 0 and 4, creating a vacancy for debutant Mahmudullah or Mehrab Hossain jnr. They could opt for the experience of Javed Omar over Tamim Iqbal at the top. Tamim has struggled for consistency and has entertained in spurts in his short career so far. Mashrafe Mortaza, though, hasn't recovered from his sprained ankle.
For Sri Lanka too it's an opportunity to test the bench strength. Seamer Nuwan Kulasekara, allrounder Chamara Kapugedera and Upul Chandana haven't got a game. Mahela Jayawardene might want to lead his team out again and go for the kill, in sight of another 3-0 sweep.
Bangladesh are left playing for pride but, after their spineless performance in the second one-dayer, searching for that pride may seem a bigger challenge. The bowlers showed some fight, picking up four quick wickets in Sri Lanka's chase on Monday, but there just weren't enough runs on the board to pull off an upset.
Sri Lanka : Sanath Jayasuriya, Upul Tharanga, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Chamara Silva, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Chamara Kapugedera, Jehan Mubarak, Farveez Maharoof, Dilhara Fernando, Lasith Malinga, Malinga Bandara, Nuwan Kulasekera, Upul Chandana
Bangladesh: Shariar Nafees, Tamim Iqbal, Thushar Imran, Mohammad Ashraful (capt), Shakib al Hassan, Aftab Ahmed, Mushfiqur Rahim, Farhad Reza, Mashrafe Mortaza, Syed Rasel, Abdur Razzak. Mahmudullah, Shahadat Hossain, Mehrab Hossain jnr