Things are heating up ahead of the Bangladesh-Sri Lanka game at the 2022 Asia Cup, a must-win match for both teams, with players, past and present, on both sides having taken pot shots at the opposition in the lead-up. Following Bangladesh team director and former captain Khaled Mahmud's comments on match eve that this Sri Lanka side has no bowlers of note, which in itself was a response to Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka having earlier in the week talked down Bangladesh's attack, former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene has got in on the act. He tweeted on Thursday morning:
Today's match will decide which of the two teams proceed to the Super 4s from Group B, alongside Afghanistan, who have already beaten both. Sri Lanka lost to Afghanistan to kick off the tournament, bowled out for 105 before Afghanistan chased down the target with eight wickets and 59 balls to spare. In the aftermath of that rout, looking ahead to a must-win game for his side, Shanaka had said: "Afghanistan has a world-class bowling attack. [But] we know Fizz [Mustafizur Rahman] is a good bowler. Shakib [al Hasan] is a world-class bowler. But apart from them, there is no world-class bowler in the side. So if we compare with Afghanistan, Bangladesh is an easier opponent."
Bangladesh, in turn, were beaten by Afghanistan by seven wickets two days ago, setting up a straight knockout with Sri Lanka. Mahmud was harsh on his team's batters following that, but also took time to have a go at Shanaka. "I don't know why Dasun made that comment," he said. "Definitely Afghanistan has a better squad. He said we have only two bowlers in our line-up, but I don't see any bowlers in Sri Lanka. At least Bangladesh has world-class bowlers like Mustafiz and Shakib. They don't even have that."
Both teams have previous history, triggered by Nazmul Islam's "naagin dance", which escalated from a wicket celebration to a tool for players on both sides to rile up opposition, all eventually ending in ugly scenes at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo following a close-fought and ill-tempered Nidahas Trophy game in March 2018, which included a smashed dressing-room door. Shanaka had played that match, and Nurul was a substitute who was entangled in on-field arguments on the day.