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Match Preview – Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka, ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021/22, 15th Match, Group 1

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When these teams met in the warm-up 11 days ago, neither Bangladesh nor Sri Lanka might have imagined they’d be playing each other again so soon. But after Bangladesh’s shock loss to Scotland and a withdrawn ICC press release later, they two teams have wound up in the same Super 12s group. Any team that makes it out of this group and into the semis, by the way, will have had to have been in some serious battles; Australia, South Africa, West Indies, and England are the teams that didn’t have to qualify.

There are similarities between the two sides. Both have a standout star allrounder – Shakib Al Hasan for Bangladesh, Wanindu Hasaranga for Sri Lanka. Both sides have decent pace attacks – Sri Lanka have the pace of Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara (who both frequently breached 145kph in the qualifiying round), while Bangladesh have the relative experience and smarts of Mustafizur Rahman. Sri Lanka will feel, though, that their attack has the edge right now. They were easily the best on show in the first round, dismissing sides for 96, 101, and 44. And if mystery spinner Maheesh Theekshana is fit enough to play (he had picked up a side strain in the match against Netherlands), Bangladesh will face the added burden of trying to figure him out.

Bangladesh, however, have the more reliable middle order, even if it hasn’t quite clicked as they would have liked so far. Sri Lanka’s most experienced batter is likely to be Kusal Perera, who has played 55 T20I innings; by comparison, Shakib, Mushfiqur Rahim, and Mahmudullah have played more than 90 innings each. In the first round, Sri Lanka’s attack was able to cover for their top order’s shortcomings, but Bangladesh are less likely to be rattled by Chameera’s short ball, or bamboozled by Hasaranga’s googly, than Namibia, Ireland, and Netherlands batters were.

Perhaps there are long-term trends to consider here too. Not a lot is expected of Sri Lanka this time, but they do have a tendency to over-perform at global events – something that held true even in the 2019 ODI World Cup. The same cannot always be said of Bangladesh. If they are to reverse that reputation, they’d do well to start with a win against a Sri Lanka side that is the least experienced in the group.

Form guide

(completed matches, most recent first)

Bangladesh WWLLW
Sri Lanka WWWLL

In the spotlight

He hasn’t really fired so far in the tournament, but in matches against Sri Lanka, Mushfiqur Rahim has rarely missed the opportunity to make runs. He has 239 runs at a strike rate of 148 against Sri Lanka – easily his best record against any of the Super 12 nations. However, he hasn’t played a T20I against Sri Lanka since 2018, when Sri Lanka had such a different attack that none of Sri Lanka’s bowlers from the qualifying round were in the XI. How will Mushfiqur cope with this group? And while Shakib’s runs were enough to get Bangladesh through to the Super 12, they need their other senior batters to begin making their mark on the tournament, if they are to mount a good campaign.

When Sri Lanka arrived in the middle east, Lahiru Kumara was far from a certainty in the XI. But in four practice matches (two against Oman), and the first round, he has perhaps been even more impressive than Dushmantha Chameera. He has seven wickets from three outings so far in the tournament, but what’s truly impressive is his economy rate of 3.61. He is an improved limited-overs bowler now, having worked with bowling coach Chaminda Vaas over the past few months. His yorker has been particularly devastating over the past three weeks.

Pitch and conditions

Sharjah’s tracks tended to be low and slow, with help for the spinners, towards the end of the IPL. Temperatures are expected to be sweltering. As this is an afternoon match, dew is not a concern.

Team news

Sri Lanka are waiting on the fitness of Theekshana, who strained his side in the match against Netherlands. If he doesn’t play, offspinner Akila Dananjaya will likely come in.

Sri Lanka (possible): 1 Pathum Nissanka, 2 Kusal Perera (wk), 3 Charith Asalanka, 4 Avishka Fernando, 5 Bhanuka Rajapaksa, 6 Dasun Shanaka (capt.), 7 Chamika Karunaratne, 8 Wanindu Hasaranga, 9 Binura Fernando, 10 Maheesh Theekshana/Akila Dananjaya, 11 Lahiru Kumara

Bangladesh have probably bumped on to their best XI for now, although they might want to look at including Nasum Ahmed if they think the Sharjah pitch will be good for spinners.

Bangladesh (probable): 1 Mohammad Naim, 2 Liton Das, 3 Shakib Al Hasan, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim, 5 Mahmudullah (capt), 6 Afif Hossain, 7 Nurul Hasan (wk), 8 Mahedi Hasan, 9 Mohammad Saifuddin, 10 Taskin Ahmed, 11 Mustafizur Rahman

Stats and trivia

  • Five of this year’s top eight T20I wicket-takers (from among Super 12 nations) are playing in this game: Wanindu Hasaranga (26 wickets), Mustafizur (24), Shakib (23), Mahedi (19), and Chameera (18).
  • These teams have not met in a T20 World Cup since 2007. Sri Lanka won that game by 64 runs.
  • Shakib is tied for the T20 World Cup’s top wicket-taker, with Shahid Afridi. They have 39 wickets apiece.
  • Quotes

    “I don’t think what happened in the first round counts so much in the main event now. Both teams are starting from scratch from tomorrow.”

    Bangladesh coach Russell Domingo about how both teams will do based on first round performances.>

    “We have been doing lot of work with Kumara trying to develop his skill. He was desperate to get a few things right. Particularly his stats in T20 cricket were not good enough for his immense talent. To his credit, he put in the hard yards. He did lot of work with our trainer Dilshan. I guess those things have stood him in good stead during the tournament.”

    Sri Lanka bowling coach Chaminda Vaas on Kumara’s recent improvement.

    Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf



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    BBL 2021-22 – Sydney Sixers fume at CA after Smith was ruled ineligible for BBL finals

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    Henriques describes the decision as ‘sad for cricket’ after Smith was deemed ineligible to play having not been initially contracted

    Sydney Sixers have scolded the banning of Steven Smith from the BBL finals as a nonsensical move that is “sad for cricket”.

    Smith’s application to play for Sixers in Saturday night’s qualifying final against Perth Scorchers has been rejected by Cricket Australia. Other BBL franchises voted against allowing Smith to play in the qualifier, a decision rubber-stamped by the CA.

    Smith, who captained Sixers to a title in their inaugural season, wasn’t on the franchise’s playing list this tournament given the star batter was expected to be unavailable due to international commitments. The postponement of Australia’s limited-overs series against New Zealand opened the BBL door for Smith.

    But the CA says allowing Smith to play for Sixers would have breached rules put in place two weeks ago regarding replacement players for squads hit by Covid-related withdrawals.

    CA introduced a local replacement player pool (LRP) from which all franchises must pick any fill-in – had Smith been placed in that pool, he would have been available for any BBL franchise. Scorchers have already been docked a competition point for breaching this rule.

    “In creating the central LRP pool, it was agreed that clubs would not be able to contract LRPs from outside the pool for the remainder of the season,” CA said in a statement on Friday. “This request was denied … noting that other players returning to the BBL from international duty have been retained on club lists throughout the competition.”

    Sixers captain Moises Henriques says the ruling defies CA’s desire for the BBL to feature the best Australian players.

    “You have got a former Australian captain, one of the best players in the world,” Henriques told reporters on Friday. “You have got IPL teams who pay multi-million dollars just to have this guy as part of their franchise. Advertising, bums on seats, eyes on TV’s – I mean, you do the math.

    “And we’re saying no because of a rule that is two weeks old in some Covid bubble hub. To me, I don’t get it. We’re in the top two without him … so I have got absolute belief in our domestic talent and local talent to do the job. I think it’s sad for cricket, that’s all.”

    Henriques understood “how those mistakes were made initially two weeks ago” when drawing up the replacement player rules.

    “What I do respect is that they [CA] have kept rolling with the punches – and I just can’t see why they don’t keep rolling with the punches now,” he said. “Mistakes are going to be made and the wrong calls are going to be made, but sometimes we also have to keep moving forward and stay flexible.”



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    Australia news – Aaron Finch expects to be involved in Justin Langer contract talks along with Pat Cummins

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    Finch is unsure what the process will be as Cricket Australia is still yet to start formal contract discussions with Langer

    Australia’s limited-overs captain Aaron Finch expects to be consulted, along with Test captain Pat Cummins, by Cricket Australia on Justin Langer‘s coaching contract, but is unsure what the process will entail.

    “I think he’s done a fantastic job,” Finch said at the 2021 T20 World Cup launch on Friday. “I think whatever happens from the Cricket Australia side of things, that’s out of our control as players, but his contract is up so no doubt there’ll be some talk there and I know Patty [Cummins] and myself might be in contact or might be contacted about that.

    “But I’ve actually got no idea. I’ve never really been in a leadership role when somebody’s coaching contract is up. But he’s done an unbelievable job and to see how good the environment has been throughout the T20 World Cup and then throughout the Ashes is a credit to everyone involved there.”

    Langer’s contract is the elephant in the room at CA at the moment, after the two parties mutually agreed to hold off discussions on the matter until after the Ashes. Langer’s current contract is due to expire in June after Australia’s tour of Pakistan in March and April.

    The head coach has been left in limbo and is awaiting formal talks with CA, while former players such as Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Steve Waugh and Shane Warne have all publicly asked why he has not yet been re-signed after winning the T20 World Cup and the Ashes 4-0 in a four-month period.

    Langer said in an interview with SEN Radio on Wednesday that he was “not edgy” about his future. But he did admit in a second interview with 6PR Radio that he didn’t know why his contract process had become so drawn out.

    He also cautioned against having multiple coaches for multiple formats, something that has been mooted for Australia’s men’s teams moving forward. “There’s a lot of talk about splitting it up,” Langer told 6PR. “On the surface, it seems to be the way to go. But, look, I’ve been consistent with this for ten years when I was at the WACA as well with the [Perth] Scorchers and Western Australia, it’s not as simple as that sounds.

    “For example, we go to Pakistan in a few weeks’ time for three Test matches, and then a few days later there’s three ODIs and one T20I game. So if you just have a T20 coach, for example, is he going to fly in with a whole new support staff for one T20 game? It just doesn’t seem to add up. I think there’s certainly got to be someone overseeing it. There’s also management of players, they play 12 months of the year. On the surface, it looks like a good idea but when you get into the logistics of it, it’s not that simple. But it’s certainly something which will be looked at.”

    Langer is currently in Tasmania as he was unable to fly home to Perth because of Western Australia’s border restrictions. He was planning on returning home when the border was due to open on February 5, but WA premier Mark McGowan announced on Thursday night that WA’s border would remain closed indefinitely, which has left every WA-based cricketer currently interstate unable to return to Perth without doing 14 days of isolation.

    So Langer is unlikely to be able to return home until after the Pakistan tour.

    Langer and Australia’s selectors are set to convene over the coming days to pick Australia’s T20I squad for the five-match series against Sri Lanka, and will undoubtedly discuss the Pakistan touring squad during the process as they look to manage the players playing all three formats.

    Finch himself will enjoy a couple of days off prior to the Sri Lanka series after Melbourne Renegades failed to make the BBL finals. He scored back-to-back half-centuries in his last two BBL games but the knee injury that troubled him during the T20 World Cup and saw him miss the first part of the BBL has still not fully healed.

    “It’s been better,” Finch said. “It’s been worse as well. It’s okay. I’ll get through for a little while longer.”

    Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo



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    2022 Men’s T20 World Cup

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    India will face Pakistan at the MCG on October 23

    Australia will start the defence of their men’s T20 World Cup title against trans-tasman rivals New Zealand at the SCG in a rematch of last year’s final while India and Pakistan will face each other at the MCG.

    They were among the standout contests in the fixture list for the 2022 T20 World Cup that was announced in Friday. The tournament begins on October 16 with Sri Lanka facing Namibia in Geelong before the Super 12 starts on October 22 in Sydney.

    The India-Pakistan fixture will take place on October 23.

    The two semi-finals will be in Sydney (November 9) and Adelaide (November 10) before the final at the MCG on November 13.

    In Group one of the Super 12s, Australia are alongside New Zealand, England, Afghanistan plus the winner of the Group A qualifiers and the runner-up in Group B.

    Group two features India, Pakistan, South Africa, Bangladesh and the other two qualifying teams.

    Two global qualifiers will determine the final teams who will head to Australia Matches will be played in Adelaide, Brisbane, Geelong, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

    Australia won the title for the first time last November when they beat New Zealand by eight wickets in Dubai. Mitchell Marsh was Player of the Match for his unbeaten 77 off 50 balls.



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