Bangladesh eye series win, SL an end to losing streak
April 1, 2017
Start time: 0930 local (0400GMT)
Sri Lanka would have felt hard done by after rain ruined the second ODI, when they put up a total of 311. No team had ever won a 50-over game on the island after being set a target over 300.
But after taking Sri Lanka's last six wickets in the final five overs, Bangladesh must have thought they were in the contest. Taskin Ahmed's hat-trick would have charged them up even further and considering they had made their highest total away from home in the first ODI - 324 - things had been shaping up brilliantly before the weather intervened.
Bangladesh may be 1-0 up and eyeing a series win, but with Kusal Mendis living up to his promise and the rest of the Sri Lankan line-up batting around his maiden hundred Tuesday, the hosts would feel like they have got their menace back. Upul Tharanga made an eye-catching half-century as well, but the team management would want him to play a longer innings, while also hoping Thisara Perera's 9 in Dambulla was a one-off low score. The big-hitting allrounder made 55 off 35 balls only a week ago and another such display could help them end a six-match losing streak.
With the action moving to the SSC, and its slow and dry surfaces, Bangladesh would have an easier time putting behind their bowling performance from the last game. They can expect grip for Mustafizur Rahman's cutters and turn for Mehedi Hasan's offbreaks. So should the weather hold up well, a contest with a lot of context is on the cards.
Sri Lanka LLLLL (completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
After his Test century in Galle earlier this month, Kusal Mendis had said that he wanted to be a leading batsman in world cricket and his 107 off 107 balls in Dambulla was another reminder of this young batsman's ambition. He was very much on-side dependent but that was mostly because the Bangladesh bowlers preferred to attack his stumps. Sri Lanka would expect more runs from their No. 3, especially in a crunch situation.
He didn't get going in the first ODI but Mushfiqur Rahim had a pretty good day behind the stumps, despite missing one stumping. He held a fine running catch to dismiss Danushka Gunathilaka, helped in the Tharanga's run-out and then produced direct hits to end Dilruwan Perera and Thisara Perera's stay in the middle. All he needs no are some runs.
Sri Lanka made three changes to their XI in the second ODI but while their batting clicked, the newly-formed bowling attack couldn't be tested. They are likely to remain unchanged, but there is a chance Seekkuge Prasanna will enter the XI.
Sri Lanka (possible): 1 Upul Tharanga (capt), 2 Danushka Gunathilaka, 3 Kusal Mendis, 4 Dinesh Chandimal (wk), 5 Asela Gunaratne, 6 Milinda Siriwardana, 7 Thisara Perera, 8 Dilruwan Perera, 9 Suranga Lakmal, 10 Nuwan Kulasekara, 11 Nuwan Pradeep
Bangladesh have Imrul Kayes, Rubel Hossain, Nurul Hasan, Shuvagata Hom, Subashis Roy and newcomer Sunzamul Islam on the bench but it is unlikely that they would break their winning combination in the third ODI.
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
An ODI hasn't been played at the SSC in six years, but in the interim, it has hosted plenty of List-A games. The average score for the team batting first those games is a remarkably low 146. Sri Lanka's cricket manager Asanka Gurusinha said he expected this particular track to be batting friendly. Chandika Hathurusingha was slightly surprised that the pitch looked underprepared even two days before the ODI. Weather in Colombo could be troublesome on match day too, with chances of a late-afternoon shower.
Stats and trivia
- The last ODI played at the SSC was before the 2011 World Cup, while Bangladesh's last ODI here was in 2005.
- The rained-out second ODI hurt Bangladesh more as they lost the chance to go up to No. 6 in the ICC ODI rankings. The two teams will retain their places at on the table - Sri Lanka at No. 6 and Bangladesh at No. 7 - regardless of the how the third ODI pans out.
"The seniors have responded to [the responsibility of getting a big score] really well. It comes with the belief and maturity of the players. They are really confident in their preparation now.
Bangladesh coach Chandika Hathurusingha
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84