Big picture – Sri Lanka in sight of 13th successive win
Sri Lanka are one win away from ODI eminence. If they beat Bangladesh in their Asia Cup Super Four game on Saturday, they will become the team with the second-longest winning streak
in the format. Only the Australians of 2003 achieved a longer streak (21), while Sri Lanka are currently tied with Pakistan (12 wins in 2007-08) and South Africa (12 wins in 2005, and again in 2016-17).
As is bound to be the case in such situations, Sri Lanka have found the fight in tricky situations. And, despite all the talk about Afghanistan’s valiant fight
in their group-stage game, Sri Lanka were more aware of the game situation, and the playing conditions, and that proved to be clincher.
That awareness is something that sometimes goes AWOL with Bangladesh. They were outplayed by Sri Lanka
following a lacklustre effort early on in the tournament. They bounced back to beat Afghanistan so impressively that they didn’t have to worry about net run rate for qualification to the Super Four stage. But then Pakistan totally outplayed them
Shakib Al Hasan called the batting
“hot and cold”, which is a cause for concern. As is the lack of awareness. Shakib and Mushfiqur Rahim
rebuilt Bangladesh’s batting from 47 for 4, but got out to poor shots. What should also worry Bangladesh is the speed with which their lower order collapsed, not for the first time.
Sri Lanka don’t have these worries at the moment. Dimuth Karunaratne is having his best ODI year with 514 runs at an average of 51.40, but what has really helped the team is his strong opening combination with Pathum Nissanka. They have totalled 812 runs together
since June, in 11 innings.
Bangladesh need a hot day here; they have had one, but have also had two cold days. And being the team to stop Sri Lanka’s run will be a huge boost.
Bangladesh LWLWL(last five completed ODIs, most recent first)
Sri Lanka WWWWW
In the spotlight – Dasun Shanaka and Mushfiqur Rahim
is going through a strange 2023. While leading Sri Lanka to 12 wins in a row, he has averaged 7.71 in eight innings. Granted he bats down the order, but in the six months before the winning run started, Shanaka’s 169 runs at 33.80 was actually Sri Lanka’s second-best in that period
behind Pathum Nissanka.
Mushfiqur Rahim‘s strong form in 2023 is a bounce back after an under-par average of 23 last year. He apparently almost lost his place in the team but a move to No. 6 has helped, as he has taken on the finisher’s role. Mushfiqur has averaged 57.25 in scoring 458 runs in his last ten innings, including Bangladesh’s fastest ODI century.
Bangladesh may not change their personnel, but are likely to shuffle their batting line-up, starting with Litton Das
moving to open with Mohammad Naim. Mehidy Hasan Miraz
could be sent to No. 8 to give the other specialist batters more time and responsibility.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Mohammad Naim, 2 Litton Das, 3 Afif Hossain, 4 Shakib Al Hasan (capt), 5 Towhid Hridoy, 6 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 7 Shamim Hossain, 8 Mehidy Hasan Miraz, 9 Taskin Ahmed, 10 Shoriful Islam, 11 Hasan Mahmud
Sri Lanka will be expected to continue with the same XI that beat Afghanistan in their last group game. They have Kusal Perera, Dushan Hemantha, Binura Fernando and Pramod Madushan on the bench.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Pathum Nissanka, 2 Dimuth Karunaratne, 3 Kusal Mendis (wk), 4 Sadeera Samarawickrama, 5 Charith Asalanka, 6 Dhananjaya de Silva, 7 Dasun Shanaka (capt), 8 Dunith Wellalage, 9 Maheesh Theekshana, 10 Kasun Rajitha, 11 Matheesha Pathirana
The R Premadasa Stadium usually has slower and lower pitches than Pallekele. But in the last five years, the 267 at Premadasa is a higher average first-innings score in day-night ODIs than Pallekele’s 255. The forecast, worryingly, suggests that there is more than a 68% chance of rain through the day (at the time of writing this).