Bangladesh eye series-levelling win
March 28, Pallekele
Start time 1430 local (0900GMT)
The second-ODI washout may have disturbed the flow of the series, but for Bangladesh it has comes as a welcome opportunity. Bangladesh have never been alive in a series in Sri Lanka going into the third match, but this time they are just a win away from squaring it.
They have batted well in patches, Tamim Iqbal's century and the excellent finish from Nasir Hossain being the bright spots. But this is a big game where the three senior batsmen - Mohammad Ashraful, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah - need to step up. Ashraful and Mushfiqur got out in the middle of a mini-collapse in the first ODI while Mahmudullah showed signs of some form . He gave it away after tickling one to the wicketkeeper, but till that point he had batted soundly.
Bowling is Bangladesh's main worry. The pace bowlers were clobbered in a confidence-sapping outing in the first ODI. They cut down on the number of seamers in the second ODI using allrounder Ziaur Rahman as a new-ball bowler. The spinners will give them the best chance of winning, although it goes against the grain at Pallekele.
For Sri Lanka, a win is of paramount importance given the circumstances surrounding the players. The team has so far fended off questions about their participation in the IPL, but it is a much talked-about issue. The only way to regain focus would be by winning the series. It is a test for captain Angelo Mathews to keep his eyes set on beating a lower-ranked side and Bangladesh's current improvement is likely to keep them honest to the job at hand.
Sri Lanka WLWWL (most recent first, completed matches only)
In the spotlight
It has not been a great tour for young Anamul Haque but he has come to the senior team with the tag of "young and hungry". His only Test appearance was disappointing while in the first ODI, Anamul looked good in bits. Much is expected from him, especially after the century he hit in only his second ODI.
The excitement surrounding Kusal Perera is bourgeoning with every shot in his repertoire. But there's more to him than just playing like Sanath Jayasuriya. He was expected to play a long innings at some point in this series, given the triple and double hundred he struck in two of the three innings before this series.
Mathews didn't hint at many changes ahead of the second ODI and he played with an unchanged line-up from the first game. It is likely to remain the same this time too.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1. Tillakaratne Dilshan, 2. Kusal Janith Perera, 3. Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4. Dinesh Chandimal, 5. Lahiru Thirimanne, 6. Angelo Mathews (c), 7. Jeevan Mendis, 8. Thisara Perera, 9. Nuwan Kulasekara, 10. Sachithra Senanayake, 11. Lasith Malinga
Bangladesh didn't pick a line-up that suited the Hambantota wicket for the second ODI and it is likely they would go with the team's strength in Pallekele too. In other words, avoid the weakness (read pace bowling).
Bangladesh (probable): 1. Anamul Haque, 2. Jahurul Islam, 3. Mohammad Ashraful, 4. Mushfiqur Rahim (c & wk), 5. Mahmudullah, 6. Mominul Haque, 7. Nasir Hossain, 8. Ziaur Rahman, 9. Sohag Gazi, 10. Abdur Razzak, 11. Rubel Hossain
Pitch and conditions
The top five ODI wicket-takers in Pallekele are pace bowlers but the Bangladesh management has expressed confidence in its strength, i.e., spin bowling. The weather for the second game of the series offers encouraging signs, but it has rained in the surrounding areas over the last few days.
Stats & Trivia
- Among the top eight wicket-takers in Sri Lanka-Bangladesh encounters, none of them are playing in this series. Nuwan Kulasekara and Abdur Razzak have taken 14 wickets each, among the current bowlers.
- Tamim Iqbal's 112 was the highest individual score for a Bangladesh batsman in Sri Lanka and the team's 259 runs was also the highest in this country.
"We can't win the series, but at the same time, we can prevent a series loss."
Bangladesh bowler Abdur Razzak
"I feel it is a good challenge for us, because we haven't won the series yet."
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here