Sri Lanka will be desperately looking for ODI Super League points – they sit in the negative currently – while Bangladesh will be keen to bolster their own tally as the teams seek improvement in the ODI series starting Sunday in Dhaka. Both sides have played very few ODIs since the 2019 World Cup too, which puts this series in sharper focus. Apart from the World Cup qualification points, the home side will look to break their ten-match winless streak across formats that followed just after they crushed West Indies 3-0 in ODIs in January. It is part of their downward trend in results, since the 2019 World Cup, when most of their wins have come against sides ranked lower than them.
Midway through this difficult year, Bangladesh will be desperate to turn things around with a busy schedule coming up. Playing at home may give them an advantage, but pitches at the Shere Bangla National Stadium have often been slow and low for ODIs. However, Bangladesh have been trying to catch up with the rest of the teams by looking to score faster and bigger as well as having genuinely quick bowlers in their attack. They will welcome back Shakib Al Hasan after he missed the New Zealand white-ball tour and the Tests in Sri Lanka. The hosts will be hoping that Shakib can, once again, combine with captain Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah to drag the out-of-form youngsters from their funk.
There will be a similar role for newly-appointed ODI captain Kusal Perera and his deputy Kusal Mendis, too, with the new crop of Sri Lanka players. Fast bowler Shiran Fernando has got his maiden international call-up, while Chamika Karunaratne and Binura Fernando – in the ODI side for the first time – have only played a Test and two T20Is, respectively. Though Sri Lanka’s selectors have also brought in Dhananjaya de Silva and Isuru Udana, the majority of the side has relative newcomers like Pathum Nissanka, Ashen Bandara, Ramesh Mendis and Asitha Fernando.
They will be tasked to solve Sri Lanka’s problems with batting and bowling in the middle overs. There are also concerns about scoring in the last ten overs, which has stopped them from consistently getting 300-plus scores. Sri Lanka will be pressed to bat deep in Dhaka where the pitch doesn’t always suit quick scoring in the first 20 overs. The visitors have also brought a relatively young pace attack and the wicket-taking will largely depend on legspinner Wanindu Hasaranga, who has Akila Dananjaya for company.
(Last five completed matches, most recent first)
Sri Lanka LLLWW
In the spotlight
As it usually happens, a Shakib Al Hasan comeback game puts the entire spotlight on him. He will slot back in at No. 3 where Bangladesh have recently tried Najmul Hossain Shanto and Soumya Sarkar with no success, while his bowling will add the sorely missed stability to the attack.
There will be a different kind of pressure on Kusal Perera and Kusal Mendis who have returned to the ODI side, and as leaders. They have to navigate their young squad, bereft of most of their experienced players, in what could prove to be a tricky first assignment against Bangladesh.
Shakib batting at No. 3 allows Bangladesh to field a more balanced playing XI. Rubel Hossain’s absence due to a back injury could bring in Mohammad Saifuddin, which means Sarkar may miss out.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Tamim Iqbal (capt), 2 Liton Das, 3 Shakib Al Hasan, 4 Mohammad Mithun, 5 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 6 Mahmudullah, 7 Mehidy Hasan Miraz, 8 Mahedi Hasan, 9 Mohammad Saifuddin, 10 Taskin Ahmed, 11 Mustafizur Rahman
Sri Lanka will have to make at least four changes to the side that played their last ODI – against West Indies in March. Dimuth Karunaratne, Dinesh Chandimal and Suranga Lakmal are all out of the team, while Thisara Perera has retired from international cricket. Kusal Perera and Kusal Mendis are likely to take spots in the top five while Isuru Udana’s experience in Bangladesh could get him a place too.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Pathum Nissanka, 2 Danushka Gunathilaka, 3 Kusal Perera, 4 Kusal Mendis, 5 Dhananjaya de Silva, 6 Ashen Bandara, 7 Dasun Shanaka/ Chamika Karunaratne, 8 Wanindu Hasaranga, 9 Isuru Udana, 10 Lakshan Sandakan, 11 Dushmantha Chameera
Pitch and conditions
Teams batting first at the Shere Bangla National Stadium, which has been a generally low-scoring ground, have lost four out of the last five ODIs. The weather is expected be scorching hot, with a high temperature of around 36 degrees.
Stats and trivia
“You have to bowl well to win matches. We [have] got both our best bowlers back – Shakib and Mustafiz. Taskin has been bowling exceptionally well. Miraz is ranked No. 5 in the world. I am expecting that we will put up a very good show.”
Bangladesh captain Tamim Iqbal has full faith in his bowling attack
“We have plans for our death bowling, but it’s important to keep in mind that that’s a role that you only get better at with experience. We can’t expect perfection from the start, our bowlers are new to this role so we need to have patience; sometimes you need to get hit and learn from your mistakes.”
Sri Lanka’s new captain Kusal Perera believes their death bowling will only improve with time
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84