Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are set to meet each other in their first game of Super 12. This Group A clash will be held today in Sharjah, UAE at 4.00 pm Bangladesh time.
Although similar in characteristics and resources, these teams are moving into this game with different momentum.
Sri Lanka, on one hand, are high in confidence with three comprehensive wins in the First Round. On the other hand, Bangladesh have not been at their absolute best thus far conceding a loss to Scotland and winning a hard-fought encounter over Oman.
However, Bangladesh’s head coach Russell Domingo believes that those results have very little value, "I don't think what happened in the first round counts so much in the main event now. Both teams are starting from scratch from tomorrow," quoted ESPNcricinfo.
Shakib Al Hasan and Wanindu Hasaranga, the key all-rounder of their respective units, are going to be the players to watch out for. Both these star all-rounders have been key to their success with both bat and ball in this tournament so far.
The batting can turn out to be a concern for both teams. While Bangladesh faltered in chasing against Scotland and struggled to capitalise on the slog overs against Oman, Sri Lanka were guilty of losing early wickets in clusters in all their three games – including the match against Netherlands where they were chasing only 45.
Although they managed to cross the hurdle of the first round, today’s game is set to produce a bigger challenge with considerably better-quality bowling attacks.
The bowling department is the area of strength for both sides. Bangladesh have a well-balanced lineup with three seamers and two spinners. Most importantly, all of them are in some way unique to the others offering variety in the lineup.
Consequently, they have already picked a total of 28 wickets so far in the tournament. However, getting rid of the tail remains a concern for them as they allowed both Scotland and PNG to add 87 and 68 respectively, after narrowing the respective teams at 53/6 and 29/7 at one stage.
Sri Lanka, however, have been very clinical in this regard as they managed to knock over the oppositions in very modest totals in all three games – 96, 101, and 44.
“I think it's such a benefit having two bowlers who are bowling above 90mph. Any batsman, get shook because bowling at 145 [kph] plus and not having any room, just bowling good areas, it's always difficult as a batsman to get over. I think at the same time, the spinners have been extremely good for us, and they've been sticking to their basics, and that's one of the reasons why we have been winning throughout this tournament,” said Bhanuka Rajapaksa, the middle-order batsman, as quoted by ESPNcricinfo.
Hasaranga and Theekshana have been the chief engineers in the spin department of Sri Lanka till now. However, should the mystery spinner Maheesh Theekshana, who picked up a side strain two days ago, fail to regain match fitness before today’s match and therefore get rested, it can translate into a tricky situation for the Lions.
Since the game is in Sharjah, it is expected to be a low scoring affair with spinners from both sides spinning webs in the batters’ minds. Mustafiz too can prove to be very effective with his variations.
As these are the two weakest sides on paper in Group A, both of them will be desperately wanting those all-important two points before facing the big boys.
These two teams have met each other on 11 occasions in T20Is so far, where Sri Lanka are leading with 7 wins against Bangladesh’s 4. Moreover, out of those 11, only one has been a World Cup encounter, which the Lankan Lions won convincingly by 64 runs in 2007.
The writer is currently studying at the Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka (IBA-DU).