They are the ‘hosts’ but they are in danger of not being at their own party. Following a chastening defeat to Afghanistan in the tournament opener, Sri Lanka will go up against Bangladesh in a must-win game of the DP World Asia Cup in Dubai on Thursday.
A heavy defeat to Afghanistan by eight wickets and with 59 balls to spare, has meant Sri Lanka have all the hard work and the heavy lifting to do against Shakib Al Hasan’s men at the Dubai international Cricket Stadium.
Sri Lanka will be hoping against hope that their batsmen will come good and give them a competitive total, if they bat first.
Last time out, the Sri Lankan batting lacked any direction and went nowhere as they spluttered to 105. It was only thanks to Bhanuka Rajapaksa, who scored a dogged 38 from 29 balls with five boundaries and a six, and Chamika Karunaratne’s 31 from 38 balls with three fours and one six, that Sri Lanka managed to scratch their way to that score.
Their openers Pathum Nissanka and Kusal Mendis will have to weather the early storm from the Bangladesh bowling attack and come up with a strong foundation from which they can launch a full-scale assault.
So too Charith Asalanka and captain Dasun Shanaka, both of whom fell for nought against Afghanistan. Bhanuka Rajapaksa will have a bigger role to play along with Wanindu Hasaranga, the all-rounder, to give them the thrust.
Sri Lanka spin bowling coach Piyal Wijetunge said Hasaranga and Rajapaksa are vital to their chances of winning and qualifying for the Super Four.
“In the T20 format, the team that plays well on the day, will win. One or two good performances would take the team to victory. So, it depends on the performances that happen on that day,” Wijetunge said at the ICC Academy on Wednesday, where Sri Lanka held a training session on the eve of the game.
“International cricket is all about handling pressure, especially T20 cricket. The team that handles pressure well will win,” he said.
“They (Hasaranga and Rajapaksa) are our trump cards. We expect them to perform and carry our side to victory. Wanindu, of course, has been a spearhead and hopefully he will come good and do the best for the team and carry the team to victory,” said Wijetunge.
Wijetunge said that Sri Lanka are mulling changes to their line-up for the game against Bangladesh.
“We haven’t thought about it but there could be a few changes,” he said.
Wijetunge said that Bangladesh have more of an advantage as they some experienced players in their side as compared to Sri Lanka.
“Bangladesh are a very experienced side. There are a couple of players who have played many T20 games when compared to us. So, that is a massive advantage for Bangladesh. But it depends on how you perform on that day. T20 is a lottery. Just one or two performances can carry a team to victory,” he felt.
“Bowling-wise, we are quite inexperienced and that plays a huge part in the game. But we do have faith in them and hopefully they will come good,” added the 51-year-old, who played one Test for Sri Lanka.
Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka
Dubai International Cricket Stadium
6 pm UAE Time
Bangladesh won 4
Sri Lanka won 8
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