Shanaka Shakib Asia Cup
Captains Dasun Shanaka (left) of Sri Lanka and Shakib Al Hasan of Bangladesh will pull out all stops to win the encounter in Dubai on Thursday, as the winners will secure a Super 4 spot in the DP World Asia Cup cricket tournament. Image Credit: AFP & Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Sri Lanka and Bangladesh square off in a must-win game of the DP World Asia Cup on Thursday (September 1). The winners take the second spot in the Super 4 from Group B behind Afghanistan, who sealed their berth with wins over Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

As they lick their wounds from the defeats, both sides look to rework their strategies in search of a win at the Dubai International Stadium. The Bangladesh team director pulled no punches as he admitted that they simply didn’t play well on Tuesday, especially the batting.

The power of powerplays

At the press conference on Wednesday, Khaled Mahmoud pointed to the dismal Bangladesh performance in the powerplay when they lost three wickets cheaply. He said: “We want to keep the same plan. We should [execute] that without losing too many wickets and scoring in the first six overs… that is to use the powerplay well. If we win the battle in the powerplay in batting and bowling, then we have a chance to win the match.”

The powerplay has been the Achilles heel of Sri Lanka too, as was evident in the Afghanistan game. In the post-match press conference, skipper Dasun Shanaka laid the blame at the batters’ door for their inability to post a good score.

“It was the first two overs that changed the whole situation. It’s been a concern over the past two years that we haven’t had partnerships upfront. That’s where we should be concerned,” Shanaka added.

read more

Sri Lanka have reason enough to be concerned. It was a left-arm seamer who derailed them in the Afghan game, and Bangladesh have a fine left-arm seamer in Mustafizur Rahman. And skipper Shakib Al Hasan’s left-arm orthodox spin is effective, although a leg-spinner is sorely lacking.

A leg-spinner is Sri Lanka’s trump card. Wanindu Hasaranga can be a matchwinner, and off-break bowler Maheesh Theekshana can bowl with the new ball. Shades of Afghanistan’s Mujib ur Rahman. Bangladesh should be careful against Theekshana to avoid a repeat of Tuesday’s fiasco.

There’s very little choose between the teams. In the end, the side that bats better will win and enter the Super 4.