Spirited Bangladesh will face a ‘shaky’ Sri Lanka side in their third Pool A fixture of the World Cup on Thursday.
The match is set to start 9:30am Bangladesh time at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
A win against the Islanders will take Bangladesh, who stand third in the points table with three points, close to a quarter-final berth. While another victory against New Zealand, England or Scotland will seal their spot in the last eight of the competition.
The Tigers will be playing at the MCG for the first time while Sri Lanka have played there 17 times before registering six wins.
Bangladesh are buoyed by their 105-run win in their opener against Afghanistan. Their second match, against Australia at the Gabba, washed out forcing the teams to share a point each.
Sri Lanka opened their campaign with a tame show against New Zealand and followed that up with an unconvincing win against the Afghans.
Quite familiar with each other, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have 37 matches between them with four going Bangladesh’s way and 32 going Sri Lanka’s way while one match was abandoned.
Bangladesh, who have several former Sri Lanka players as coaching staff, have nothing but victory on mind.
Skipper Mashrafe bin Mortaza has said Chandika Hathurusingha is engineering a strategy to beat the Lankans. The 31-year-old pacer thinks if everything is executed according to plan, a win is very much on the cards.
Mashrafe has hinted at a high-scoring match at the MCG. With scores of 300 aplenty in this World Cup, the Bangladesh captain is confident his batsmen can reach the mark.
“Our batsmen are definitely able (to score 300). If we start well, we can certainly do it. We’ve done it before.”
Bowling coach Heath Streak has urged the batsmen to concentrate more on rotating the strike. He thinks due to the ground being very big, ones and twos will be crucial.
There were concerns after wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim hurt his finger during practice on Tuesday. Although he was cleared and took part in batting practice on Wednesday, whether he will keep wicket on Thursday remains uncertain.
Mashrafe, however, suggested Anamul Haque was an able stand-in keeper.
Bangladesh included eight batsman in their line-up in the opener but may drop one against Sri Lanka to make way for a specialist spinner to assist Shakib Al Hasan. They have Taijul Islam and Arafat Sunny in reserves.
The Bangladesh pace battery proved effective against Afghanistan. Mashrafe is confident Rubel Hossain and Taskin Ahmed will bring success in Melbourne.
“Rubel and Taskin have been under focus having played only one match. They are pretty fast.”
Sri Lanka have a formidable bowling attack with the likes of Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal and Rangana Herath. The Tigers have sketched out plans for dealing with Malinga, who is coming back from injury.
Bangladesh will also have to deal with experienced Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara – who will be playing his 400th ODI on Thursday.
All-rounders Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera, too, pose serious threat to Bangladesh’s ambitions. Perera has already admitted he seeks to rediscover his mojo against Bangladesh on his ‘lucky’ ground.
Sri Lanka suffered a blow to their campaign when all-rounder Jeevan Mendis was ruled out with a hamstring strain.
With most of his teammates misfiring and media at home predicting an early exit, captain Angelo Mathews is feeling the pressure ahead of the tricky outing.
“It’s certainly going to be a tough game. Bangladesh have performed really well in the recent past,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
“It’s a World Cup game. It’s going to be a pressure game for all of us.”
Bangladesh were backed up by a huge crowd at the Manuka Oval in Canberra. The scenario can be different in Melbourne.
But Mashrafe thinks otherwise.
“I think Bangladesh supporters will come. I heard that a lot of Bangladeshi supporters are coming from Sydney or from Melbourne as well. So hopefully it will be nice to play in front of them.”
Mashrafe has said Al-Amin Hossain’s expulsion from the squad will not affect the team. He insisted that the issue had been left behind and that they are looking forward to the game.
Source: Bd news24