Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim (R) stretches with fast bowler Al-Amin Hossain during a practice session at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium yesterday, ahead of today's third and final ODI against Sri Lanka. Photo: Star
When Bangladesh take the field today it will be their last opportunity to salvage some pride from a tour that has just not gone their way. Their job has been made slightly easier with the visitors deciding to rest Kumar Sangakkara, who has been Bangladesh's arch-nemesis on this tour, for the dead rubber that Sri Lanka have won 2-0. Tillakaratne Dilshan, who injured his hand in the second ODI on Thursday, will also be unavailable as Sri Lanka push for a whitewash.
In terms of the scenario preceding the match, it could hardly be worse for the hosts.
Defensive tactics, the failure of middle-order batsmen and shoddy fielding have already been criticised. A ban imposed by the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) on Shakib Al Hasan for the next three ODIs for his 'inappropriate gesture' on live television has only added to Bangladesh's woes.
The BCB's decision however, would mean that Naeem Islam, Bangladesh's highest run-scorer in the last series, will finally get a chance to make his mark in this series by slotting in at the number five spot.
Captain Mushfiqur Rahim had earlier stated after the series loss that the hosts were low on confidence and that they would have to work very hard to come out of the losing streak.
Tamim Iqbal continues to be doubtful for the starting eleven although he attended yesterday's optional training session for a brief period. Anamul Haque and Shamsur Rahman are expected to be the opening pair in his absence. There is a chance that Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, who missed the first match due to swelling on his knee, could be rested. With crucial matches coming ahead in the Asia Cup, Mashrafe's presence in the squad will depend upon his injury-management programme.
While the match may be a dead rubber, a win for the Tigers will help them regain the confidence that they garnered over the last two years and also help take the momentum into the Asia Cup.
Head coach Shane Jurgensen did state yesterday that he was not panicking as yet and a bit of 'tidying things up' is all that is required. He would definitely hope to have a win before entering the Asia Cup.
“It was pretty tough. My first series loss on home soil. We are playing against a strong team like Sri Lanka. We haven't played our best cricket, it is yet to come. We have to make sure to be positive tomorrow,” he said.
The match will be a challenge for the Sri Lankans as well, albeit of a different kind. A whitewash here will take them to the number four spot in the ODI rankings, over England. However, they will have to do it without the services of their senior-most players. The last time the Sri Lankans played without either of these three players (Sangakkara, Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardene) was in the 1999 World Cup.
While the youngsters did fire in spells in this series, it's been Sangakkara who has been the major difference between the two teams. They will however be joined by opener Lahiru Thirimanne who will be replacing Dilshan at the top.