Sri Lanka and Bangladesh poised for test of strength with Zimbabwe breathing down



The tri-nation ODI series featuring Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, from January 15 to 27 will generate keen interest. While Sri Lanka and Bangladesh go in to the series having drawn 1-all   when they last met in 2017 in Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe registered a 3-2 maiden series win against Sri Lanka in 2017. Sri Lanka does hold a tournament leverage having won the previous tri-series when the same teams met in Bangladesh in January 2009.

Bangladesh will play Zimbabwe in the tri-series opener in Dhaka where all seven day-night matches, including the final, will be held. Each side will face each other twice during the league stage.

The triangular does carry a significant element in the equation of the Sri Lankan and Bangladesh teams given the recent head coach shift of Chandika Hathurusinghe to the Sri Lankan camp having mentored Bangladesh on a successful path that reached fruition in 2017. The year scripted one of Bangladesh’s best years winning all home series’ with the exception of England. The coach change over does throw a new air in terms of preparations with Sri Lanka looking to benefit from Hathurusinghe’s recent alignment in directing operations. In perspective, it could well be the differentiating barometer when the two sides renew rivalry.

Sri Lanka has looked to its former home grown product as a resource to rejuvenate its cricket from a decline to winning measure. Hathurusinghe’s international credentials are lofty as one of the top three coaches around in top flight cricket. Besides, the re-handing of the ODI reins to former captain Angelo Mathews, the country’s most experienced asset, is a further team motivating factor. The two dimensional change in the Sri Lankan camp, and a fine-combed 16-member squad under the careful scrutiny of Hathurusinghe with recalled young batting star Kusal Mendis and rookie fast bowler Shehan Madushanka does make interesting reading. The much looked to results from the ideal high profile support staff blend that comes with time and experimentation is progressively falling in to shape. Adding to the Hathurusinghe clout are fast bowling coach Rumesh Ratnayake and batting coach Thilan Samaraweera. Both Ratnayake and Samaraweera, drafted recently, have by now got a feel of things in maximising their respective departments.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh has appointed former skipper Khaled Mahmud as the new interim head coach while making five changes to their ODI squad for the first two matches of the tri-series against Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe, including the addition of Mustafizur Rahman.  Taskin Ahmed and Soumya Sarkar have been dropped from the ODI squad that played in South Africa. Added into the squad along with Mustafizur – are Anamul Haque, Mohammad Mithun, Abul Hasan and Sunzamul Islam. Soumya and Taskin have been dropped for the first time from an ODI series along with Liton Das, Mominul Haque and Shafiul Islam.

Zimbabwe has named all-rounder Brandon Mavuta, and wicket-keeper batsman Ryan Murray in the 15-member squad while omitting seven members of the side that had won a series against Sri Lanka for the first time in July 2017.

After the tri-series, Bangladesh will host Sri Lanka for two Tests in Chittagong and Dhaka respectively. The first Test will be played from January 31 to February 4 and the second match from February 8 to 12.

Sri Lanka’s tour will end with two T20Is – the first on February 15 in Dhaka and the second on February 18 in Sylhet.

Sri Lanka ODI squad:

Angelo Mathews (Capt.), Upul Tharanga, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal, Kusal Janith Perera, Thisara Perera, Asela Gunaratne, Niroshan Dickwella, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Dushmantha Chameera, Shehan Madushanka, Akila Dananjaya, Lakshan Sandakan, Wanidu Hasaranga.

Bangladesh squad for first two ODIs:

Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Anamul Haque, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah, Nasir Hossain, Sabbir Rahman, Mohammad Mithun, Mustafizur Rahman, Rubel Hossain, Abul Hasan, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Mohammad Saifuddin, Sunzamul Islam.

 Zimbabwe ODI squad:

Graeme Cremer (Capt.), Hamilton Masakadza, Solomon Mire, Craig Ervine, Brendan Taylor, Sikandar Raza, Peter Moor, Malcolm Waller, Ryan Murray (wk), Tendai Chisoro, Brandon Mavuta, Blessing Muzarabani, Christopher Mpofu, Tendai Chatara, Kyle Jarvis.

By Srian Obeyesekere

-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-