When these teams met in the warm-up 11 days ago, neither Bangladesh nor Sri Lanka might have imagined they’d be playing each other again so soon. But after Bangladesh’s shock loss to Scotland and a withdrawn ICC press release later, they two teams have wound up in the same Super 12s group. Any team that makes it out of this group and into the semis, by the way, will have had to have been in some serious battles; Australia, South Africa, West Indies, and England are the teams that didn’t have to qualify.
There are similarities between the two sides. Both have a standout star allrounder – Shakib Al Hasan for Bangladesh, Wanindu Hasaranga for Sri Lanka. Both sides have decent pace attacks – Sri Lanka have the pace of Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara (who both frequently breached 145kph in the qualifiying round), while Bangladesh have the relative experience and smarts of Mustafizur Rahman. Sri Lanka will feel, though, that their attack has the edge right now. They were easily the best on show in the first round, dismissing sides for 96, 101, and 44.
Bangladesh, however, have the more reliable middle order, even if it hasn’t quite clicked as they would have liked so far. Sri Lanka’s most experienced batter is likely to be Kusal Perera, who has played 55 T20I innings; by comparison, Shakib, Mushfiqur Rahim, and Mahmudullah have played more than 90 innings each. In the first round, Sri Lanka’s attack was able to cover for their top order’s shortcomings, but Bangladesh are less likely to be rattled by Chameera’s short ball, or bamboozled by Hasaranga’s googly, than Namibia, Ireland, and Netherlands batters were.
Perhaps there are long-term trends to consider here too. Not a lot is expected of Sri Lanka this time, but they do have a tendency to over-perform at global events – something that held true even in the 2019 ODI World Cup. The same cannot always be said of Bangladesh. If they are to reverse that reputation, they’d do well to start with a win against a Sri Lanka side that is the least experienced in the group.
(completed matches, most recent first)
Sri Lanka WWWLL
In the spotlight
He hasn’t really fired so far in the tournament, but in matches against Sri Lanka, Mushfiqur Rahim has rarely missed the opportunity to make runs. He has 239 runs at a strike rate of 148 against Sri Lanka – easily his best record against any of the Super 12 nations. However, he hasn’t played a T20I against Sri Lanka since 2018, when Sri Lanka had such a different attack that none of Sri Lanka’s bowlers from the qualifying round were in the XI. How will Mushfiqur cope with this group? And while Shakib’s runs were enough to get Bangladesh through to the Super 12, they need their other senior batters to begin making their mark on the tournament, if they are to mount a good campaign.
When Sri Lanka arrived in the middle east, Lahiru Kumara was far from a certainty in the XI. But in four practice matches (two against Oman), and the first round, he has perhaps been even more impressive than Dushmantha Chameera. He has seven wickets from three outings so far in the tournament, but what’s truly impressive is his economy rate of 3.61. He is an improved limited-overs bowler now, having worked with bowling coach Chaminda Vaas over the past few months. His yorker has been particularly devastating over the past three weeks.
Pitch and conditions
Sharjah’s tracks tended to be low and slow, with help for the spinners, towards the end of the IPL. Temperatures are expected to be sweltering. As this is an afternoon match, dew is not a concern.
Sri Lanka will probably not have Maheesh Theekshana for this match, after he strained his side against Netherlands. Akila Dananjaya is likely to come in.
Sri Lanka (possible): 1 Pathum Nissanka, 2 Kusal Perera (wk), 3 Charith Asalanka, 4 Avishka Fernando, 5 Bhanuka Rajapaksa, 6 Dasun Shanaka (capt.), 7 Chamika Karunaratne, 8 Wanindu Hasaranga, 9 Dushmantha Chameera, 10 Akila Dananjaya, 11 Lahiru Kumara
Bangladesh have probably bumped on to their best XI for now, although they might want to look at including Nasum Ahmed if they think the Sharjah pitch will be good for spinners.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Mohammad Naim, 2 Liton Das, 3 Shakib Al Hasan, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim, 5 Mahmudullah (capt), 6 Afif Hossain, 7 Nurul Hasan (wk), 8 Mahedi Hasan, 9 Mohammad Saifuddin, 10 Taskin Ahmed, 11 Mustafizur Rahman
Stats and trivia
“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.”
Bangladesh coach Russell Domingo about how both teams will do based on first round performances.>
“We have been doing lot of work with Kumara trying to develop his skill. He was desperate to get a few things right. Particularly his stats in T20 cricket were not good enough for his immense talent. To his credit, he put in the hard yards. He did lot of work with our trainer Dilshan. I guess those things have stood him in good stead during the tournament.”
Sri Lanka bowling coach Chaminda Vaas on Kumara’s recent improvement.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf