With a Super Four berth on the line, both Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will be desperate for a win as they lock horns against each other in Dubai on Thursday at 19:30 IST.
This will be the second match for both the teams in this edition of the Asia Cup, after both of them started their campaign with losses in their respective opening encounters.
Can Sri Lanka bounce back from their crushing defeat against Afghanistan?
The Lankan Lions didn’t enjoy the ideal start to the tournament. Afghanistan outplayed them in both batting and bowling, despite having a quality side at their disposal.
The top-order will need to deliver in this match as the trio of Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis and Charith Asalanka failed miserably in the last match. Sri Lanka’s bowling also lacked penetrative and wicket-taking threat as Afghanistan chased the target of 106 down with eight wickets and 59 balls to spare.
They were completely humiliated by Afghanistan and that’s why they will be eager to make a statement against Bangladesh in this match.
Can Bangladesh hold their nerves against Sri Lanka?
While the match between Afghanistan and Sri Lanka was quite one-sided, Bangladesh delivered a much more competitive performance against the Afghans. Although the Afghan bowlers restricted Bangladesh to a paltry total of 127 once again, the Bangladeshi bowlers didn’t give up and kept their team in the game right until the death overs.
Bangladesh were in the driving seat having restricted Afghanistan to 62/3 at the end of the 13th over. But they couldn’t hold their nerves as Najibullah Zadran and Ibrahim Zadran took the match away from them in the last few overs with an onslaught from both ends.
Going into this match, Bangladesh will have to be careful about not repeating the same mistakes in the death overs. The top-order and senior players like Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah will also need to deliver, as they failed pretty badly in the previous game.
The Lankan Lions have played a total of 12 T20 internationals this year and have won just two matches out of that while losing nine. That doesn’t paint a very good picture for them, especially after their crushing loss against Afghanistan in the previous game.
But, as far as the head-to-head record between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh goes, the Lankan Lions have enjoyed the upper hand with eight wins in the 12 matches between them. However, the last four encounters between the two sides have been pretty much even, as they have won two contests each.
Bangladesh’s recent form hasn’t been impressive either. The Tigers have played nine T20 international matches this year and have won only twice while losing six times.
Although their bowling has delivered in almost every match, it’s their batting that hasn’t allowed them to get the desired results. They would want to improve on that and they need to do that immediately as another loss isn’t something they can’t afford now.
Possible Playing XIs
Danushka Gunathilaka, Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis (wk), Charith Asalanka, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Dasun Shanaka (c), Wanindu Hasaranga, Chamika Karunaratne, Maheesh Theekshana, Dilshan Madushanka, Matheesha Pathirana
Mohammad Naim, Anamul Haque, Shakib Al Hasan (c), Afif Hossain, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mosaddek Hossain, Mahmudullah, Mahedi Hasan, Mohammad Saifuddin, Taskin Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman
Players to Watch
Shakib Al Hasan
The Bangladesh skipper is going to be their most important player in this match. With an experience of 100 T20i matches to his name, Shakib has amassed 2021 runs and has picked up 122 wickets.
He will bat at No.3 and will also bowl his full quota of overs. Shakib scored only 11 runs in the last match but went on to bowl a superb spell of 4-0-13-1.
Sri Lankan batters are also going to have problems facing his tight bowling, and Bangladesh will have a good chance of winning the match if he can deliver with his batting as well.
He has gone on to become one of Sri Lanka’s best players ever since his arrival a few years back. Hasaranga has played 39 T20i matches for Sri Lanka so far, picking up 63 wickets at a superb average of 14.22. He is also a handy lower-order batter and has amassed 384 runs until now, including a best score of 71.
Hasaranga couldn’t do much with his batting in the last match, but he was still Sri Lanka’s best bowler having picked up a wicket in his three overs, which went for just 19 runs. He could turn out to be a real menace for Bangladesh in this match.
As far as history goes, Sri Lanka has the upper hand in this encounter. Bangladesh, on the other hand, also have a strong side at their disposal and are almost on par on overall strength as a team.
But Bangladesh have more experience in both batting and bowling department, and that could turn out to be a decisive factor in a big game like this.
So, even though Sri Lanka have some quality batters and bowlers, Bangladesh have the edge in this contest as they have multiple players with big game experience.