Tri-series: Sri Lanka vs Bangladesh Preview

Batsman faces bowler in front of packed cordon

Sri Lanka and Bangaldesh will do battle for the right to face India in the final of the Tri-Series this Wednesday. 

India have booked their berth in Sunday's final, leaving Friday's fixture as an effective semi-final. Both teams have won just won game each in this T20I series - and just one more will do the job.

Bangladesh have the opportunity to repeat the success they achieved against the Sri Lankans earlier in the tournament, while sweet revenge is at the fore of the islanders' agenda.
Sri Lanka v Bangladesh | Friday, 16 March | R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo | 15:30
To Win Match (Forecast odds)
Sri Lanka 4/7
Tie 35/1 
Bangladesh 11/8

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Sri Lanka
It will be a real pity, an embarrassment even, if Sri Lanka don't make the final of a competition they are hosting. They've been entirely inconsistent so far, beating India but then losing to Bangladesh. This imbalance has to take a back seat to a dominant enough performance in what has effectively become a semi-final in front of an anticipant home crowd.

They went with an additional seamer against India last time out, and despite the result then, this won't be a bad idea now. Some extra pace just affords them a few more options, when things might not be going their way, rather than turning to another spinner. Akila Dananjaya, however, must open the bowling again - and do as well as he did earlier this week.

The hosts will be without captain Dinesh Chandimal again. He is currently serving a two-match ban for a slow over-rate - and will be back for the final, if his team graduate to that. All-rounder Thisara Perera will be the stand-in skipper again and, as always, can't have the additional responsibility detract from his primary roles with bat and ball.

A big problem in 10 March's defeat to Bangladesh was an inability of at least one of their top three to kick on after promising starts. Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis and Kusal Perera will be fully aware of this - and effectively in a race to see who can, indeed, make up for their lack of conversion with a century, or at least an attacking 80-odd.


The major news coming out of the Tigers camp is that veteran all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan will be fit for this decider. He had originally been ruled out of the entire tournament, but after seeing specialists in Thailand and Australia, has recovered well enough from a finger injury to play again. This is a massive boost, as he effectively fills three roles.

He will also resume the captaincy, removing some pressure from the shoulders of Mohammad Mahmudullah and stalwart batsmen Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim, who were key in helping Mahmudullah through the onus of being stand-in skipper. Iqbal and Rahim will want to score the bulk of the runs, with the latter in some particularly good form and eager to capitalise.

Al Hasan wouldn't dare decide to bat first if triumphant at the toss. Or would he? No captain as done so this tournament, but the wise old owl might sense and opportunity to catch Sri Lanka off guard with a left-field decision. Sri Lanka have become all too used to totals, albeit with mixed success, and the requirement to set one might see them falter. Rain, meanwhile, has been forecast.

Successfully combating Kusal is key. Having regained his place in the T20I side this year, he has scored four half-centuries in five matches across 246 runs at an impressive average of 49.20. Prior, he had managed a mere 74 at 9.25. One of the fast bowlers, Mustafizur Rahman of Rubel Hossain, should be instrumental in taking him on. This will be an intriguing head-to-head battle.

Verdict: Bangladesh 11/8
The visitors really should be able to put in a repeat success here, replicating what they managed against the men in blue earlier in the tournament. Shakib's return is a hefty boost for this pursuit.

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Written by Jonhenry Wilson for Hollywoodbets

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