With the inclusion of new faces in the squad, host Bangladesh will look to better their situation when they take on Sri Lanka in the first of two T20Is at Mirpur Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka Thursday.
The Tigers are coming into the series backed by shocking defeats in the final of the tri-nation ODI series and later in the two-match Test series. Severe batting failures have been the chief reason and the Tigers will look to rectify those coming into the shortest format of the game.
The wicket at the home of cricket in Mirpur was heavily blamed for the Bangladesh batsmen’s struggles. However, at the same time, they were also pushed to admit the fact that the opposition batsmen had played better, despite disadvantage of away condition.
The MSBNCS in the recent past has been criticised for killing the joy of the shortest format. The low and slow wicket provided help to the bowlers and made the batsmen struggle, thus denying the spectators from witnessing high-scoring battles. The last T20 competition Mirpur hosted was the Bangladesh Premier League T20 2017 where the average score was around 140 per innings.
With that said, Bangladesh will look to start the series on a winning note and make a positive start to their plan of setting up a T20I team for the 2020 World T20.
Bangladesh this year will play around 12 T20Is, their highest in a year since their first T20I in 2006. With so many T20Is on the horizon in the next two years, the Tigers can work on their team combination and balance. As far as trying the newbies are concerned, the side have already roped in six uncapped cricketers in the 16-member squad.
Fresh blood in the shape of middle-order batsman Ariful Haque, all-rounder Afif Hossain, wicketkeeper-batsman Zakir Hasan, spinners Mehedi Hasan and Nazmul Islam Apu and pacer Abu Jayed Rahi have been called to the side. According to stand-in Bangladesh captain Mahmudullah, effort is being made for quick involvement of the young cricketers who are deserving of their places. Off the new ones, Bangladesh are likely to give debut to batsman Ariful and pacer Jayed.
The duo played a pivotal role for Khulna Titans to take the side to the knockout stage of BPL 2017. Ariful had established himself as a finisher and a batsman with the ability to hit big in the death overs, something the Bangladesh team have been looking for. With injury concern surrounding wicketkeeper-batsman Mushfiqur Rahim, chances are there for Zakir to make his maiden international appearance for Bangladesh.
There however, will be discussions if someone with experience should take the job in the form of Mohammad Mithun. The wicketkeeper-batsman was the last member to get included in the squad, Wednesday, as backup to Mushfiq. Opener Tamim Iqbal has also complained of pain in his biceps.
On the other hand, Sri Lanka will be boosted to say the least. They arrived in Bangladesh last month and since then, bagged the tri-series title and later went on to lift the two-match Test series trophy. The wins were much welcomed as the Lankans have been going through a transition period in the last couple of years.
The visiting side are well backed by players who have the experience of playing T20s in Dhaka, including the likes of Upul Tharanga, Thisara Parera, Akila Dananjaya and Jeevan Mendis. The cricketers have featured for different franchises in the BPL and are likely to eliminate the surprise element of the new faces in the Bangladesh side.
The side also have the advantage of having head coach Chandika Hathurusingha, who previously led the Tigers before resigning from the job in November last year. As far as coping with the condition goes, the Lankans have already showed their superior ability in the series over Bangladesh so far.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Bangladesh stand-in captain Mahmudullah might act as a key for the side for various facts. The spinner all-rounder took charge after Shakib al Hasan was ruled out from the series due to injury. And with injury concern hovering over Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah is expected to lead the team from the front. Mahmudullah maintains a good track record in the format, especially after leading in the Bangladesh Premier League T20. His leadership and performances for Khulna Titans in the last two editions of the tournament have collected him praise and applause from all around. Many had immediately considered him as the future captain and now, he has been appointed skipper as Bangladesh take on Sri Lanka in the first T20I Thursday. Mahmudullah will be expected to take the work-load for the Tigers.
Thisara has already made enough mark in Bangladesh with his all-round ability in T20s, playing for various franchises in the BPL T20 over the years. Boosted with the local experience the pace-bowling all-rounder will be expected to add the extra factor to the side. Thisara, who missed the Test match series against Bangladesh, was in good shape during the tri-nation ODI series last month. The left-handed batsman had made crucial contributions in the initial part of the competition as Sri Lanka eventually lifted the trophy. And with the ball, the right-arm pacer picked up 11 wickets.
Head to head
T20Is - 7
Bangladesh wins - 2
Sri Lanka wins - 5
Win % - Bangladesh (28.57), Sri Lanka 71.42
Most runs - Sabbir Rahman (Bangladesh, 141), Kusal Perera (Sri Lanka, 230)
Highest score - Sabbir (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)