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The Preview by Kanishkaa Balachandran
January 15, 2009
Match factsJanuary 16, 2008
Big PictureThe tri-series got just what it needed - Bangladesh in the final. With all due respect to Zimbabwe, the team with the more commanding head-to-head record between them in recent times was expected from the very beginning to meet Sri Lanka in the final. The winter was threatening to succumb to another season of discontentment for local fans before Shakib Al Hasan's hair-raising assault against the Sri Lankans on Wednesday gave his team the chance to fight another day. Sri Lanka were jolted in a fog-curtailed match and that result will force them to approach tomorrow's final with a slightly different mindset.
Their batting was a let-down, save for Sanath Jayasuriya's half-century on Tuesday. Both Upul Tharanga and Kumar Sangakkara made ducks while the captain Mahela Jayawardene - despite scoring 28 - is yet to shrug off his dip in form in ODIs. His recent performances reflect those of the top order which has lacked consistency in their recent games.
Jayawardene, however, felt there was no need to panic. "As I had said before, considering the challenges I think they did a good job. We had one bad game after a long time. This can happen in cricket. We just need to pull our socks up. We have quality players and I am sure that they will be up and ready for the big match."
Sri Lanka are still favourites to take the title but the opposition is high on confidence. That the match was reduced to 31 overs actually worked to Bangladesh's advantage as they have shown more potential in the past in the shorter versions. Though they faced lesser overs of spin than normal, they refused to allow themselves be dominated by Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis. The question is whether they can repeat their heroics in a full 50-over game, if the weather permits.
"We realise that tomorrow we have a genuine chance if we do the processes right and stick to the game plan," Mohammad Ashraful, the Bangladesh captain, said on the eve of the game. "All of us want this year to be a big year for Bangladesh cricket."
Form guide (last five completed ODIs, most recent first)Sri Lanka LWWWW
Watch out for
Shakib Al Hasan: He gave Sri Lanka nerve-tingling moments with his 96 in the Mirpur Test and made yet another score in the nineties at the same venue, this time for a winning cause. His audacious strokes against the spinners, often exposing his stumps to free his arms either side of the wicket, powered his team home within the cut-off for the bonus point and his confidence was exemplary. The loss of three early wickets for virtually nothing didn't alter his game plan, which was to attack. His recent showings as an allrounder have been the biggest talking point for Bangladesh cricket and will have to repeat the performance in the crunch match.
Rubel Hossain: Rubel kept his debut a pleasant surprise for his mother and his raw pace didn't just cause a flutter in his household. After getting tonked by Jayasuriya for three fours in his first over, he came back well to pick up four wickets. His bouncers thwarted Sri Lanka's attempt at pushing the scoring in the end. He was asked by the umpire Billy Doctrove to put a lid on the short stuff but he seemed least bothered by the warning. For a change in this series, Mashrafe Mortaza had some solid support.
Team changesBangladesh will want to stick to the winning combination from Wednesday. They have named Nazmul Hossain in the twelve and he could replace Mahbubul Alam, who's yet to control his economy rate after a poor debut.
Bangladesh: (probable) 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2Junaid Siddique, 3 Mohammad Ashraful (capt), 4 Raqibul Hassan, 5 Shakib Al Hasan, 6 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 7 Naeem Islam, 8 Mahmudullah, 9 Masrafe Mortaza, 10 Mahbubul Alam/Nazmul Hossain, 11 Rubel Hossain.
Sri Lanka didn't name their twelve on the eve of the match. Jayawardene admitted that the previous game was a rare bad day at work, which implies they could play the same team and hope for the best.
Sri Lanka (probable) 1 Sanath Jayasuriya, 2 Upul Tharanga, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 5 Jehan Mubarak, 6 Chamara Kapugedera, 7 Angelo Mathews 8 Thilan Thushara, 9 Nuwan Kulasekara, 10 Muttiah Muralitharan, 11 Ajantha Mendis.
Stats and Trivia
"We have to show improvement in all areas and especially in the top order. So far we have not managed a start. We need to make sure that if one of the top three gets set then he should bat as long as possible. A good start makes the job easier for the next batsmen coming in."
Ashraful doesn't want a repeat of Wednesday when Bangladesh stuttered at 11 for 3
"It's not something unusual. People realise that we have been beaten by a team that played better cricket than us on the day. Credit should go to them. Some of the Bangladesh players had great games, [Mashrafe] Mortaza in bowling and Shakib Al Hasan in batting and we made a lot of mistakes and when you come across performances like Mortaza and Shakib's on such a day you are bound to lose. It was a bad day at office."
Jayawardene when asked about the reaction in Sri Lanka after the defeat.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a sub-editor at CricinfoFeeds: Kanishkaa Balachandran
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