Tigers circle wounded prey
March 28, 2017
Start time 1430 local (0900 GMT)
A win in a landmark Test, post-match calls from the prime minister, outstanding performances from debutants, seniors producing their best work - this hastily arranged tour was only supposed to be the postscript to Bangladesh's high-profile visits to New Zealand and India, but now has the makings of a dream tour.
Consider how dominant Sri Lanka have been against Bangladesh in the past. Muttiah Muralitharan's record is sometimes attacked for containing too many Bangladesh wickets. Kumar Sangakkara looked bored while hitting half of his hundreds against them. Now, tables are turned, boots have switched feet, and the vanquishers are on the verge of becoming vanquished. Before Saturday, Bangladesh had won only one ODI in 15 attempts in Sri Lanka - and that, too, a rain-affected match that became a little chancy towards the end. Now they have crushed Sri Lanka by 90 runs, have players in form, and have possibly become favourites on an away tour.
Not that Sri Lanka balk at the underdog tag. Often it's when little is expected of them that they are at their most stirring. But in reality, this is a team that have now lost six ODIs in a row, have been defeated in five of their last six home one-dayers, and are operating without their best player - Angelo Mathews.
Failed strategies have been curiously persisted with too. Sri Lanka have stacked their XI with allrounders, which seems to routinely leave them a bowler short in the death overs. They seem to constantly try to make limited-overs stars out of promising Test players, who might be better left to develop in one format (20-year-old Lahiru Kumara being a prime example). There is also the fielding, which we won't go into again, because if you are a Sri Lanka fan, it will only want to make you cry.
Sri Lanka LLLLL (completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
It is time to talk about Thisara Perera - perhaps Sri Lanka's best batsman of the first ODI, where he hit 55 off 35 balls. Is he a batsman who can bowl a bit? Well, in 18 innings since the start of 2015, he has averaged 14.23 with the bat. Is he then a bowler who bats a bit? This seems even less likely, as since the start of 2015, he averages 54.33 with the ball, and concedes runs at 6.63 an over. His role in the team seems unclear.
He has often found ways to be overshadowed in Sri Lanka, but Mehedi Hasan has been consistently effective, and has been a key contributor to Bangladesh's success through this tour. On ODI debut on Saturday, Mehedi took the new ball - a task only experienced spinners are usually saddled with - and delivered a five-over spell that yielded one wicket and cost only 17, helping sink Sri Lanka's chase early. Mehedi has also been an enthusiastic contributor with the bat and in the field. Here is a player worth keeping tabs on.
Niroshan Dickwella was set to be available after suspension, only he has got himself injured and is now out of series. In his place Sri Lanka have drafted in offspinner Dilruwan Perera, while also strengthening their fast-bowling options with the addition of Nuwan Pradeep and Nuwan Kulasekara to the squad. There is a chance one of these new additions will play - Kulasekara the most likely. There is also some concern about a niggle to Suranga Lakmal.
Sri Lanka: (possible) 1 Danushka Gunathilaka, 2 Upul Tharanga (capt), 3 Kusal Mendis, 4 Dinesh Chandimal, 5 Asela Gunaratne, 6 Milinda Siriwardana, 7 Dhananjaya de Silva/Sachith Pathirana, 8 Thisara Perera, 9 Suranga Lakmal/Nuwan Pradeep, 10 Nuwan Kulasekara, 11 Lakshan Sandakan
Bangladesh may retain their winning XI, although Mashrafe Mortaza said he was not afraid to make changes if conditions demanded.
Bangladesh: (possible) 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Soumya Sarkar, 3 Sabbir Rahman, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 5 Shakib Al Hasan, 6 Mosaddek Hossain, 7 Mahmudullah, 8 Mehedi Hasan, 9 Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), 10 Mustafizur Rahman, 11 Taskin Ahmed
Pitch and conditions
A little extra grass has been left on the Dambulla surface, so it may not be as given to turn as the previous one. The weather is expected to be mostly fine.
Stats and trivia
- Sri Lanka have now lost their last three matches at Dambulla. They had lost two ODIs to Australia there last year.
- If Bangladesh whitewash Sri Lanka in the series, they will move to sixth on the ODI rankings list, and displace Sri Lanka to seventh.
"We have [previously] broken our winning combination against India and South Africa in 2015. The wicket tomorrow may be different, so we have to keep that in mind."
Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza on team composition
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando