Fighting to impress
Sri Lanka and Pakistan go into the tri-series in Bangladesh, which begins tomorrow, looking for practice ahead of the World Cup where they will hope their performance impresses other sides enough to secure more bilateral series.
The series may not be the ideal preparation for the World Cup but Sri Lanka and Pakistan, along with Australia and New Zealand, are the only teams playing international cricket a month before the tournament, which gives them some edge over the rest.
India dominated the Asia Cup last May but the others managed to take some positives from the tournament. Sri Lanka reached the final - and will be favourites in the tri-series - while Bangladesh beat Pakistan before losing to them later.
Sri Lanka followed up the Asia Cup with a 3-2 win over West Indies at home. They have a strong batting line-up led by opener Dedunu Silva. Their bowling is anchored by spinners Suwini de Alwis, who took 21 wickets in the previous two series, and captain Shashikala Siriwardene, who took 19 in the same.
Pakistan, whose series against West Indies was cancelled because of security concerns, and Bangladesh - who are yet to gain one-day status - have not played since May last year. Pakistan have included some fresh faces in the squad but it's the experienced hands - captain Urooj Mumtaz and Sajjida Shah, their leading run-getter in the Asia Cup - who remain the ones to watch out for. These two will have to click if Pakistan have any hope of beating Sri Lanka and gaining a psychological advantage ahead of the World Cup. The team played Under-15 and Under-19 men's teams in preparing for the tri-series.
For Bangladesh, a good show will strengthen their campaign for one-day status. The 18-year old captain Salma Khatun leads a very young squad, which includes Lily Bishwash, at 14 the tournament's youngest player. Khatun believed the team had improved since playing the Asia Cup. "We have played two practice matches prior to the series and I think we are a much improved side now," Katun was quoted as saying in Bangladesh's Daily Star.
Sri Lanka and Pakistan will be taking the same squads to Australia so while the tri-series won't serve as a selection test, it will give the captains a better idea on whom to play. Other players to watch out for are:
Chamari Polgampola, the Sri Lankan medium-pacer, took five wickets and scored 105 runs in five games against West Indies.
Panna Ghosh was the Player of the Tournament in Bangladesh's first international series - the Asian Cricket Council women's Trophy - for her nine wickets and 75 runs. But she struggled against the bigger teams, taking five wickets in six Asia Cup games. This time, playing at home in familiar conditions, she could give Bangladesh crucial breakthroughs.
Tithy Sarkar, the Bangladesh offspinner, took a career-best seven wickets against Pakistan - including a career-best 4 for 25 - in the Asia Cup and will be keen to add to her kitty when the teams meet on Friday.
Pakistan opener Bismah Maroof had a poor Asia Cup - only 40 runs from six games - and her team will hope she can fire before the World Cup. She will have a new opening partner to work with as Tasqeen Qadeer was left out of the squad.