Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka: Preview and Prediction
The intense caravan of the 2023 Asia Cup has already been kick-started, it’s now time for the Group B action to commence with an anticipated battle between two South Asian heavyweights.
Bangladesh will begin their hunt for maiden continental glory by summoning the tournament history’s second-most successful side Sri Lanka in the opening Group B fixture. The Pallekele International Cricket Stadium situated in the city of Kandy will be hosting the forthcoming high-profile clash this Thursday.
Bangladesh has named a 17-member squad consisting of five players Tawhid Hridoy, Shamim Hossain, Shoriful Islam, Tanzid Hasan Tamim, and Tanzim Hasan Sakib who were part of the U-19 World Cup-winning side in 2020.
Ebadot Hossain was part of the initially announced squad but a lingering injury has forced the 29-year-old seamer to rule out of continental action. Meanwhile, veteran all-rounder Mahmudullah has been once again sidelined from the Bangla roster despite attending the preliminary fitness camp.
The Lankan team management was also forced to make changes in their primary Asia Cup squad owing to the injuries of Dilshan Madhushanka, Dushmantha Chameera, Wanindu Hasaranga, and Lahiru Kumara.
It is a big blow for the bowling unit of Sri Lanka as all four of them are integral parts of head coach Chris Silverwood’s tactics and winning approach. The ongoing fitness fiasco roaming around the Ceylon roster is the main reason why the co-hosts are yet to name replacements and officially announce the final squad.
What have they done so far?
After registering an away 2-0 win over Ireland, the Bangla Tigers returned to their homeland in June 2023 to face their South Asian counterparts, Afghanistan for a three-match ODI series. However, the bilateral saga did not go well for the Green and Reds who suffered an aching defeat on home turf after losing both of the initial encounters. Bangladesh also had a forgettable campaign in the previous Asia Cup where they were knocked out of the group stages without a single win under their helm.
On the other hand, Sri Lanka thoroughly enjoyed a successful continental journey in 2022 and graced the champions podium of this prestigious tournament for the first time since 2014. The Lankan Lions’ most recent 50-over appearance was back in July 2023 when they toured Zimbabwe to participate in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers event and conquered the qualification title. The former world champions convincingly outclassed the Netherlands side by 128 runs and remained invincible throughout the tournament.
Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have been considered two elite One-Day International sides in the current era however, the head-to-head record between them has always been one-sided. Sri Lanka has showcased utter dominance over the Bangla Tigers and has emerged victorious against them on 40 occasions. The Green and Reds have managed to pull off the strings in recent years but their win count still stands at 10 from 51 encounters.
During the last edition, the South Asian giants squared off in a virtual knockout clash which was won by the Lankan Blues who sealed the final ticket to the Super Four. Meanwhile, the most recent Asia Cup face-off in the 50-over format went in favor of Bangladesh who eventually finished as the runners-up. Mushfiqur Rahim’s marvelous 144-run knock set the target at 262 while the Lankan Lions stumbled during the run-chase and surrendered on 124.
We have witnessed Bangladesh struggling to find success on Ceylon soil as the most recent ODI series staged in Lanka resulted in a 3-0 whitewash by the home team. The visitors couldn’t even put up a strong fight for the bilateral trophy and lost all three encounters in a convincing manner. The veteran Lankan batter Kusal Perera emerged as the second-highest run-scorer fetching 183 runs from three innings at an average of 61 and also smashed the only century of the series.
Maheesh Theekshana: In the absence of star leggie Wanindu Hasaranga, the responsibilities to lead the spin department of the Lankan Lions will be on the shoulders of this 23-year-old off-break bowler.
Theekshana emerged as the second-most successful bowler in ICC World Cup Qualifiers after scalping a whopping tally of 21 wickets while having a minimal average of 12.19 in 8 matches. He also completed a hat-trick of 4-wicket hauls in the final clash with Netherlands after previously achieving the same feat against Zimbabwe and West Indies.
Shakib Al Hasan: Even in his final years, the Green and Red side seems to heavily rely on the veteran all-rounder owing to his impeccable consistency. The 36-year-old managed to make it Top 5 runs and wicket-taking charts of the Afghanistan series while being the only Bangla bowler to fetch at least a wicket in all three fixtures.
The Bangladeshi roster is stacked with a lot of young faces, especially in the batting department hence it will be all up to the skipper to provide stability in the middle.
Bangladesh: Litton Das, Mohammad Naim, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Shakib Al Hasan ©, Towhid Hridoy, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Afif Hossain, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Shoriful Islam, Taskin Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman
Sri Lanka: Pathum Nissanka, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Mendis (wk), Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Sahan Arachchige, Dasun Shanaka ©, Dushan Hemantha, Maheesh Theekshana, Matheesha Pathirana, Kasun Rajitha
Sri Lanka’s inability to field the strongest bowling lineup will provide an opportunity for the batting unit of the Bangla Tigers to launch a full-fledged attack. However, the Lankan Lions are still standing tall with brighter chances to emerge victorious having the advantage of current form and home conditions.