2014 Champions Sri Lanka will begin their quest for a place in the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup with a game against fellow qualifiers Bangladesh in Sharjah this afternoon.
The Group 1 Super 12 round game will get underway at 3.30pm.
Sri Lanka was by far the best team during the qualifying round and convincingly beat Namibia, Ireland and Netherlands.
The bowling attack consisting of Dushmantha Chameera, Lahiru Kumara, Wanindu Hasaranga and Maheesh Theekshana were lethal against the minnows.
Mystery spinner Theekshana is also the second leading wicket taker in the tournament. The batting though has not clicked, with experienced Kusal Janith Perera struggling for form.
The top order needs stability and shot selection of Pathum Nissanka, Avishka Fernando, Charith Asalanka, and Dinesh Chandimal who was dropped for the last encounter have been poor.
Hasaranga’s 71-run knock against Ireland though has given another dimension to the middle order which has not been tested much thus far.
Heading into the business end of the tournament, the coaching staff will look to tinker the batting order as only Hasaranga and Nissanka have scored more than 50 runs in three outings.
The Bangladesh batters have also not clicked.
They have a far superior and experienced line-up than the Lankans that comprises of Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, skipper Mahmudullah and Liton Das.
They lost to Scotland in the opener but managed to salvage wins against Oman and Papua New Guineas to qualify.
Mustafizur Rahman will lead the pace attack while Mahedi Hasan will be the go-to-man during the middle overs.
Bangladesh will likely bolster the spin bowling department for this afternoon’s contest while Sri Lanka could opt for Akila Dananjaya in place of Maheesh Theekshana, who strained his side in the match against Netherlands.
The Sharjah deck will be spin friendly and application is key for batters to deliver especially during the early afternoon games.
Sri Lanka have won seven of the 11 T20Is played against Bangladesh thus far but have struggled for consistency in recent years.
Prediction: A win for Sri Lanka