March 31, 2013
Start time 1900 local (1400 GMT)
Whatever happens on Sunday night, Sri Lanka will look back on this tour and feel it has not gone as they would have liked. Bangladesh had never taken a Test to the fifth day in Sri Lanka, but they bettered even that achievement by keeping the hosts to a draw. Sri Lanka were made to fight hard in the second Test, and though they triumphed handsomely there in the end, they were embarrassed in the ODI series, when Bangladesh stormed home in Pallekele. Sri Lanka may have been missing Mahela Jayawardene, who has made home series a specialty, but Bangladesh have been without their star player in Shakib Al Hasan throughout the tour, and lost Tamim Iqbal after the first ODI.
Twenty20 is supposedly Sri Lanka's strongest format, but they will put the top ranking they earned during their World Twenty20 campaign on the line, in the final match of the tour. If Sri Lanka lose to ninth-ranked Bangladesh, they drop five ratings points, and will slip behind West Indies.
Sri Lanka's selectors have approached this match as a development game, and as such, Sri Lanka's ranking seems especially insecure. Of the 16 players in the squad, six have never played an international Twenty20, and among the uncapped, only Kithuruwan Vithanage has played at the top level in any format.
They also have a young, new leader, who for all his talent, had been unable to establish a place in any of the three national teams four months ago. Throughout the Tests and ODIs, Dinesh Chandimal was often in Angelo Mathews' company during talks on strategy, but although he holds a coveted school cricket record as a captain, his leadership qualities are burgeoning, rather than refined. Bangladesh are soaring after their last win, and are now faced with a significantly weaker Sri Lanka team. If there was any match against Sri Lanka in which they began as favourites, it is this one.
Critical to their chances is their bowling, which, despite the team's results, has been unconvincing throughout the tour. The fast bowlers in particular have been wayward in their opening spells - though they will not have Tillakaratne Dilshan to contend with in this match - and too much has been required of Sohag Gazi, whose own career is still in its infancy. If Bangladesh's attack can prevent a quick start, and put pressure on Sri Lanka's inexperienced batsmen, they will go a long way towards securing a heartening victory to cap off a terrific tour.
Form guide(completed matches only, most recent first)
Sri Lanka: WWLWW
In the spotlight
Dilshan Munaweera arrived in the Twenty20 side after an impressive Sri Lanka Premier League tournament, but was unable to produce the sustained assaults at the top of the innings through which he established his reputation. He is coming off a first-class 104 from 87 deliveries however, and will be keen to translate that form into his first notable international innings.
The man who has suddenly become the centre of attention on this tour is Nasir Hossain. His unbeaten 33 has become the most valuable innings for Bangladesh in the ODI series as it helped them grab a win and draw the series. Even the Sri Lankans are talking about him, so he would be one to look out for.
Angelo Perera is the likeliest young batsman to debut in the match, though Kithuruwan Vithanage, who played in the Test series, may also be close to selection. The biggest conundrum for Sri Lanka will be how to replace the rested Nuwan Kulasekara. There are a slew of young allrounders in the squad, and among them, fast bowler Ishan Jayaratne and left-arm-spinner Chaturanga de Silva are the likeliest of the freshers to play. Sri Lanka may opt for a little more experience however, in which case Shaminda Eranga will play.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1. Kusal Perera, 2. Dilshan Munaweera, 3. Lahiru Thirimanne, 4. Dinesh Chandimal (capt & wk), 5. Angelo Perera/Kithuruwan VIthanage, 6. Angelo Mathews, 7. Jeevan Mendis, 8. Thisara Perera, 9. Shaminda Eranga/ Chaturanga de Silva/ Ishan Jayaratne, 10. Sachithra Senanayake, 11. Lasith Malinga.
There could be a temptation for Bangladesh to bring in Mosharraf Hossain as the third spinner and cut down on one batsman from the top-order. In that case, Mominul Haque - who has not done well in Twenty20s recently, may be chopped. A debut for Shamsur Rahman also beckons, especially after his BPL performance this season. But team sources have said that Mominul will continue to play while there is a high likelihood for Shamsur to make his international debut with Mosharraf's wait to return to international cricket set to be extended.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Mohammad Ashraful, 2 Shamsur Rahman, 3 Jahurul Islam, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (capt & wk), 5 Mahmudullah, 6 Nasir Hossain, 7 Mominul Haque, 8 Ziaur Rahman, 9 Sohag Gazi, 10 Abdur Razzak, 11 Rubel Hossain/Shahadat Hossain.
Pitch and conditions
Sri Lanka's south-west monsoon rains appear to be making an early appearance, and with Pallekele quickly gaining a reputation as one of the wettest grounds in cricket, the match may be affected by the weather once again. The surface itself looks identical to the one used for the ODI, which had a little something for bowlers of all inclinations, but was far more favourable for batsmen.
Stats and trivia
- Sri Lanka have not dismissed Nasir in a limited-overs match, in three innings. He hit 36 not out during the Asia Cup last year, and has was unbeaten on 73 and 33 in the ODI series. He has never played a Twenty20 against Sri Lanka.
- In 12 innings, Chandimal's Twenty20 average is 14.83 and his strike rate 97.26
- If Sri Lanka defeat Bangladesh, they earn one rankings point and extend their lead at the top of the table.
- The game will be played on the 27th anniversary of Bangladesh's debut international match
"As a team we are at number one, and everyone is looking to keep that. We've trained really hard in the last few days, and hopefully that will pay off with a win."
Chandimal feels he has a responsibility to maintain a hard-won ranking
"Bowling in the Powerplay and the death is very important for us. We have to do well in these two periods. The bowlers are confident after not having a great tour."
Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim on Bangladesh's weaker suit on this tour