Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka: First T20 Preview

Batsman faces bowler in front of packed cordon

We preview the first T20 International between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka set to get underway on Thursday 15 February in Mirpur. 

Bangladesh and Sri Lanka put the ODI tri-series with Zimbabwe - and a two-Test series against each other - behind them to focus on a couple of T20Is. Both teams will be without key all-rounders.

Sri Lanka have never beaten Bangladesh in the shortest format at this venue - and lost their last T20I to the hosts, in April 2017. Revenge beckons for the tourists, while the hosts want to build on those victories. 

 Bangladesh v Sri Lanka | Thursday, 15 February | Shere Bangla National Stadium | 13:00

To Win Match
Bangladesh 11/1
Tie 35/1
Sri Lanka 72/100 

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Bangladesh
Bangladesh have plenty of positives to build on from the ODI tri-series late last month, when they beat Sri Lanka once only to lose to them twice. What they got right in that first fixture needs to be rekindled this month - and where they went wrong needs to be avoided. Their ability to handle heavily pressurised junctures will be entirely key.

The home side will be without their veritable one-man army, Shakib Al Hasan. He's been sidelined from the series opener by a hand injury - and leaves the batting and bowling ranks light on an important resources. This makes plenty of space for Mushfiqur Rahim on a leadership front, Soumya Sarkar with the bat and Rubel Hossain with the ball to step up.

The inclusion of Tamim Iqbal and Mustafizur Rahman gives the squad star appeal, which is largely required after the call-up of five uncapped players in Abu Jayed, Ariful Haque, Mahedi Hasan, Zakir Hasan and Afif Hossain. The rookie quintet will pretty much face a baptism of fire against opposition renowned for capitalising against under-performing debutants.

A proliferation of spin will be in order, with the role of the seamers reduced to somewhat of a sideshow at a venue expected to take plenty of turn. The Shere Bangla National Stadium has yielded just seven T20I wins in 19 attempts for the Tigers, but they will take plenty of heart from 2016's victories over Pakistan and Sri Lanka here.

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Sri Lanka 
While the Bangladeshis grapple with the absence of Al Hasan, Sri Lanka need to work around a major omission of their own. Angelo Mathews, indeed, has not recovered from the injury that ruled him out of the preceding Test series - and remains out of action for the foreseeable future. His ability with the bat, more than the ball, will be missed.

Opportunity, then, knocks for the rest of the middle order to perform well - and not rely on Mathews to deliver significant 40s and 50s time and time again. At the top of the order, Niroshan Dickwella and Upul Tharanga can really do their team a favour by getting off to solid starts, rather than spluttering through the opening powerplay.

This will be new coach Chandika Hathurusingha's first T20I series - and he's opted for some fresh, young faces in Asitha Fernando and Shehan Madushanka. The seam duo would do well to back the decision to overlook Lasith Malinga, while inexperienced spinners Jeffrey Vandersay and Amila Aponso - and all-rounder Dasun Shanaka - have also been called up.

The Sri Lankans were properly outclassed by India in December 2017's T20I series - and Pakistan two months prior. They, in fact, have not won a T20I in 10 months. Before that, they got things very right against Australia - and it's this form they need to find again against Bangladesh. The collective steel and individual stamina shown then must be displayed now.

Verdict: Sri Lanka 72/100

They're both hovering at the top of the bottom half of the ICC's rankings for T20I teams, jostling for position with the likes of Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Scotland. Sri Lanka should gain some ground on Bangladesh this time around, though.

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Written by Jonhenry Wilson for Hollywoodbets

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