Dhaka Tribune Correspondent Minhaz Uddin Khan reports from Sylhet.
Host Bangladesh will target a much-needed win when they take on Sri Lanka in the second and final T20I at Sylhet International Cricket Stadium Sunday in order to brush off all the dejection from the past one month or so.
The last time Bangladesh met Sri Lanka in a bilateral series, during their tour of the island nation last year, the Tigers had set a bold statement by ending the Test, ODI and T20I series in a draw. But within a span of a year, the tables seemed to have turned against the Tigers.
Bangladesh last month made a flying start by qualifying for the tri-nation ODI series final after winning the first two games. However in the final, the side were the victim of batting failure and the frustration doubled in the two-match Test series.
The Tigers in the first Test made a brilliant comeback ending the game in a draw only to lose the second Test following a dreadful batting performance. In the first T20I, the Tigers started boldly, putting up 193 runs, their highest ever total in the shortest format. The Lankans however, tamed the Tigers with a similarly brilliant batting display.
Bangladesh in the first T20I in Mirpur last week, had gone with four debutants and it was only spinner Nazmul Islam Apu who could make a mark. With three pacers and a specialist spinner in the shape of Nazmul, the attack looked out of place.
If Nazmul had bagged two wickets with an economy rate of under seven runs in four overs, his colleagues, especially the pacers Rubel Hossain, Saifuddin and Mustafizur Rahman, had let the side down. The pacers’ bowling was all over the place, and not according to the field set-up drafted by stand-in captain Mahmudullah. As a result, the Tigers got hammered all over the park.
SICS, hosting its first game involving Bangladesh, has a history of high-scoring T20 matches. The last T20 competition, the Bangladesh Premier League 2017, often saw high-scoring games with the teams regularly breaching the 200-run mark.
Opener Tamim Iqbal, who missed the first T20I due to muscle strain, was seen hitting the ball hard in the nets Saturday and according to Mahmudullah, the left-handed batsman is ready to come back. In that case, opener Zakir Hasan, who made his international debut in Dhaka and scored 10 runs, will have to make way for his senior colleague. Local lad, pacer Abu Jayed has all the possibility to make his debut, replacing Saifuddin. Right-arm pacer Saifuddin had an awful time in the previous game, giving away 33 runs in just two overs.
On the other hand, boosted with a lot of confidence from their recent wins, Sri Lanka will look to lift their third trophy in Bangladesh this year and return home with pride. The Lankans struggled in the shortest format over the past 10 months, losing each of their eight most recent encounters, often by substantial margins but had come back strong winning the first T20I of the series in Dhaka. All credit goes to the side’s batsmen for chasing down a mammoth total to record their highest ever successful T20I chase.
The Dinesh Chandimal-led side can also take pride from the fact that their top-order comprising Kusal Mendis and Danushka Gunathilaka are in good touch. Bangladesh are bound to have a tough task in their hand against the opposition.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Tamim has recovered well from the muscle strain that had kept him out of the first T20I, which Bangladesh lost convincingly by five wickets in Dhaka last week. According to team sources, the left-handed swashbuckling batsman has recuperated well and the quality time that he spent in the nets at Sylhet International Cricket Stadium Saturdayonly goes to show that. Tamim made a sizzling start to the month-long series with three consecutive half-centuries in the tri-nation ODI series involving the Tigers and visiting sides Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. Bangladesh though are now in dire straits having lost the tri-series final, followed by defeats in the two-match Test series and the first T20I. The Tigers will be looking to Tamim to fire in order for them to level the series.
With an unbeaten 39 and a solitary wicket in the first T20I against Bangladesh, all-rounder Perera yet again proved his importance in the shortest format for Sri Lanka. With the Lankans on the verge of finishing their tour of Bangladesh with yet another trophy, Perera will be expected to step up to the occasion. The 28-year old is heavily backed with the experience of playing in Bangladesh for various franchises in the BPL T20 over the years and his knowledge of the condition will come in handy yet again Sunday.
Head to head
T20Is – 8
Wins – Bangladesh (2), Sri Lanka (6)
Win % – Bangladesh (25), Sri Lanka (75)
Most runs – Mahmudullah (Bangladesh, 157), Kusal Perera (Sri Lanka, 230)
Highest score – Sabbir Rahman (Bangladesh, 80), Perera (77)
Most wickets – Shakib al Hasan (Bangladesh, 9), Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka, 11)
Best bowling – Mustafizur Rahman (Bangladesh, 4/21), Malinga (3/20)
Source: Dhaka Tribune.