Sri Lanka won the Test series 1-0 away from home after a string of disappointments in the format recently. They are now scheduled to play two T20Is against Bangladesh as part of the final leg of their tour. Both teams have retained the core squad, replacing the rest with new faces or specialists for the shortest format.
With Shakib ruled out of the T20s, can Bangladesh hold fort against Sri Lanka at home? As in the Tests, the teams will rely on their batsmen being able to score the big runs against equally average bowling lineups. Who will come out on top?
Dinesh Chandimal (c), Upul Tharanga, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Perera, Thisara Perera, Asela Gunaratne, Niroshan Dickwella, Dasun Shanaka, Isuru Udana, Shehan Madushanka, Jeffrey Vandersay, Akila Dananjaya, Amila Aponso, Jeevan Mendis, Asitha Fernando
Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah, Sabbir Rahman, Mustafizur Rahman, Rubel Hossain, Mohammad Saifuddin, Abu Hider Rony, Abu Jayed, Ariful Haque, Mehdi Hasan, Zakir Hasan, Afif Hossain
Where the teams stand
Sri Lanka have a much superior batting lineup compared to the Bangladeshis. Upul Tharanga and Dickwella/Kusal Perera at the top, Chandimal at one-down, the discarded option between the opening slot likely at four, followed by Gunathilaka and Thisara Perera form quite a power-packed lineup. The Perera’s will be instrumental due to their big hitting abilities. If they get going, they will make short work of the opposition attack. Tharanga and Chandimal are two trustworthy anchors to support the two pinch-hitters. It’s a very balanced batting order, with elements of stability as well as ruthlessness.
Their bowling lineup is also shaping up decently. Dasun Shanaka is a handy all-rounder who boasts an economy of 7.6 in T20s. Thisara Perera will also doubtless bowl. The Sri Lankans also have some good spinning options in the form of Dananjaya, Jeevan Mendis, and Vandersay. The former two can bat as well lower down the order, making them the more convenient choices. However, Dananjaya is an off break bowler whereas Mendis bowls leg spin. It won't make too much difference against a subcontinental team, but leg spin is bound to be the form with more utility against a side comprising primarily of right-handers. Isuru Udana might also make the cut as one of the pacers. The left-handed bowler has a deceptive slower ball, which might be useful if he can take the ball away from the batsmen. While the Sri Lankans have plenty of choices, they lack the quality and experience required at an international level. This is where having a well-rounded batting lineup might come in very handy.
Where Sri Lanka have a great batting lineup and an average bowling attack, things are quite the opposite for the home side. They have three senior batsmen in the form of Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudullah, and Mushfiqur Rahim. Sabbir Rahman and Soumya Sarkar are two other regular features who are constantly in and out of the team. The onus for the batting will rest on Rahim and Iqbal, the former in the middle overs till the death overs and the latter in the initial stages of the game.
Bangladesh have a couple of all-rounders who might be able to swing the match in their favor. Mehidy Hassan and Mohammad Saifuddin are both bowling all rounders who can contribute with the bat as well. A brittle middle order will most likely call for a healthy contribution from these two(if selected), and if it does, they will be the X-factors of the match. Mustafizur and Rubel Hossain will also be an integral part of the bowling, the former more so. Bangladesh have selected a bunch of new faces for the squad to face Sri Lanka, and one of them will likely make the cut as well. Overall, this will be an encounter between the Bangladeshi bowling and the Sri Lankan batting. Whoever wins that competition will win the match.
Sri Lanka win. Sri Lanka’s batting runs far too deep for only two premier bowlers to penetrate. The all-rounders, if they put in a special performance, might get their team to victory, but the odds are not in their favor.