DHAKA: Bangladesh are slowly creeping closer to Sri Lanka. It happened in the Test series when they bounced back from a horrendous defeat in Dhaka to a first-ever drawn home Test against Sri Lanka. The two Twenty20s were last-ball finishes; Anamul Haque failed to connect a high full-toss in the first and Sachithra Senanayake hit a boundary when two were required to win in the second. Sri Lanka will however look to maintain their excellent record in Bangladesh, having won all their bilateral series in the country.
The last ODI series between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka was a drawn affair. One match in Hambantota was rained off while Bangladesh won the rain-shortened third ODI in Pallekele. It was always important for Bangladesh to finally compete against Sri Lanka, the team against whom they have had a poor record for a long time. They have now drawn two Tests in the space of a year, and ran them close in Twenty20s. Given Bangladesh’s home record in bilateral ODI series over the last two years, they will be expected to push Sri Lanka in the ODIs.
Bangladesh have a settled line-up, with Tamim Iqbal and Shamsur Rahman at the top of the batting order. Mushfiqur Rahim will have Shakib Al Hasan and Nasir Hossain for company, but have to choose two among Anamul Haque, Naeem Islam, Mominul Haque and Mahmudullah. Sohag Gazi’s bowling form is a concern while they are without Abdur Razzak, which would mean more emphasis on Shakib and Mashrafe.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, are a settled side, with their main batsmen among runs. Lasith Malinga, too, found some sting in the second T20 in which he picked up three wickets. But Sri Lanka have won just one bilateral ODI series out of their last five, drawing three. The win came against South Africa at home, whom they edged aside 4-1. Their last ODI series was against Pakistan in the UAE where they lost 2-1. The last time they won a series away from home was against Australia in 2010.
Mushfiqur Rahim has made just one half-century in his last ten ODI innings, so runs will be expected from him. He will also have a crucial role to play as captain, as Bangladesh have not lost a bilateral ODI series at home since 2011. Dinesh Chandimal was poor during the two Twenty20s but was successful as captain, winning both games. He is a crucial part of Sri Lanka’s middle-order, and will bank on his last ODI performance, an unbeaten 64 against Pakistan, to come back among runs.
Bangladesh have a tricky task selecting their playing XI. Mushfiqur will not keep wickets because of an injury to his hands, but will bat. That would mean that either Shamsur or Anamul could keep wickets. Taking various factors like ODI performance, recent form and team building into account, either Mominul Haque or Anamul Haque would feature No 3, while Naeem Islam may get the nod ahead of Mahmudullah, who has made just one half-century in ODIs in 2013. Shafiul Islam and Al-Amin Hossain will also be second choice behind Mashrafe Mortaza and Rubel Hossain.
Sri Lanka could make two changes to their side that last played an ODI. Nuwan Kulasekara’s impact as a bowler and fielder in the Twenty20 series could bring him back into contention while Thisara Perera also has a chance. There is likely to be a choice between Ashan Priyanjan and Kithuruwan Vithanage.
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