Bangladesh head coach expects Mahedi Hasan, Afif Hossain and Nurul Hasan to become key players for the team
The two sides have already played a Test and an ODI series this year, and Bangladesh are aware of Sri Lanka’s white-ball capabilities despite having won the ODI series 2-1 at home. The game is in Sharjah, where the pitches might be similar to the ones Bangladesh played on in Dhaka in August and September.
“I think we have played against Sri Lanka a bit over the last couple of months,” Domingo pointed out. “We have had some good contests against them in ODIs and Tests. We have a well-balanced side with skilful bowlers and some dangerous batters. We have a world-class allrounder in Shakib [Al Hasan].
“These type of conditions can suit us. Sharjah is similar to the wickets in Dhaka. Hopefully that can assist us in tomorrow’s game. We are happy with the 2pm starts – it suits us big time. It takes dew out of the equation. I think our spinners will come very much into the competition. We know a lot of the other teams are focused on the dew.”
Both teams have very little experience of playing in Sharjah, with Sri Lanka having played their first T20I at this venue against Netherlands on Friday. Shakib, though, did play three games in Sharjah for Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL recently. Domingo agreed that “scores have come down considerably since the new wickets have been laid” in Sharjah, and expected a certain kind of bowler to make a mark.
“Tall bowlers who hit the wicket have always been in the game,” he said. “I came here with South Africa [eight] years ago. I remember Morne Morkel was very effective [with] the sort of hard length that he bowled. The ball skids through. If you bowl wicket to wicket, spin has opportunity here. LBWs and bowleds come into the game. We are not known as a power-hitting side, so the [shorter boundary] could favour us.”
“A big part of coaching is for the team to focus on what they can control. There’s nothing we can do about what people are writing and saying. We can focus on our performances – we can evaluate our performances”
Although Mahedi has bowled well with his variations in flight and speeds, he still hasn’t found enough room to have an impactful innings with the bat, failing at his only opportunity at No. 3. But, according to Domingo, he can expect another bump up the batting order at some stage.
“I am a big fan of Mahedi. I think the most important thing is his character,” he said. “He is always up to fulfill any role in the team. It is not easy batting up the order, [and then] down the order. He never complains. He is focused on what the team needs. He is versatile with the ball – he can bowl in the middle, at the death and up front.
“He is definitely a three-in-one cricketer for us. The big thing about his preparation is that he is happy to be doing any role. He sees them as a big challenge, and takes them on 100%. I am happy with how his campaign has gone so far.”
Afif, meanwhile, has been coming into his own in an attacking role in the middle order, even though he hasn’t had a lot of time in the middle, while Nurul has been sharp behind the wickets, although he is yet to answer the call with the bat.
“I think Afif and Sohan [Nurul] will be seriously good players for Bangladesh in this format,” Domingo said. “Sohan is our one big-hitter at the back-end of the innings. Afif got 20 off 13 balls the other day [21 off 14 against PNG]. He is playing well. I hope he can kick on in this phase. They are big players for us.
“Sohan’s keeping [has] been magnificent. He probably saved us 10-12 runs behind the stumps. It is often the difference in these matches. I have been pleased with both their performances. Runs may not be massive at the moment, but what they provide to the team is of immense value.”
But it all might come down to how well Bangladesh manage to control their emotions in the Super 12s phase. There has already been considerable backlash from many quarters, including BCB president Nazmul Hassan, who criticised the senior players and the side’s overall attitude following their defeat to Scotland early in the first round.
“When you are playing for Bangladesh, there’s always going to be criticism when things don’t go well – it is part of international sport,” he said. “A big part of coaching is for the team to focus on what they can control. There’s nothing we can do about what people are writing and saying. We can focus on our performances – we can evaluate our performances.
“As soon as we worry about those types of things, it takes your focus away from what we need to focus on. We have talked long and hard on what we need to focus on. And it’s cricket.”
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84