Combinations pondered to address inconsistency
Bangladesh will be eager to bounce back against Sri Lanka today, following the batting slump against Pakistan on a flat batting deck in the ongoing Asia Cup.
Anything short of a win at the R. Premadasa Stadium would leave the Tigers desperately looking at other results, with their third and final Super Four fixture against India all set to be a difficult prospect.
Bangladesh have already played Sri Lanka at Pallekele in their first Group B fixture, a game where the batting had suffered.
This time they would be without Najmul Hossain Shanto, who had scored 89 in holding the innings together before it eventually crumbled. Without Shanto, Matheesha Pathirana and Maheesh Theekshana might appear to be bigger threats this time around.
The Tigers' head coach, Chandika Hathurusingha, put on a brave face at the press conference yesterday regarding playing the Lions at their home.
"Where Matheesha releases the ball is very different from others. It's something that many cricket teams cannot prepare for. That in itself is an advantage because you don't get to practice against that kind of bowler much. Malinga was very successful, and I think Matheesha has a big future," Chandika said about Pathirana who picked four wickets in the last game.
With Theekshana once again likely to open with the ball to fit Tigers' opening combination, coming up with a counter plan must have been the need of the hour in the team meeting yesterday.
Chandika suggested there is every chance of changing the playing eleven but mostly they need some consistency as two poor outings with the bat showed their plans did not quite match reality.
"We are very much aware of what has happened in recent past, but we have been playing good cricket. We have to play in different conditions in last two or three games. It is a big challenge for us. We talk about that we are more capable of than what we have shown here. Inconsistency is what needs to be addressed. We actually spoke about that [batting inconsistency], so we are looking forward to putting up a good show."
Where could they search for consistency at the top? Would Mehedi Miraz once again appear as a makeshift opener? Liton may likely once again feature at number three, given Shanto's absence, although Chandika did not want to comment on these aspects. Moreover, Afif Hossain and Shamim Hossain have not found consistency either in lower-middle order.
Anamul Haque Bijoy could also come into the fray given the need for a right-handed opener to counter mystery spinner Theekshana, who has picked 24 wickets in his last 10 games.
"I think both teams will consider different combinations. We will certainly think about it. We will assess the conditions tomorrow. We won't make an early decision with the eleven," Chandika opined.
Given Mohammad Naim's failure to capitalise on starts he got in this Asia Cup, Chandika too was asked about Bijoy.
"Everyone in the squad has an opportunity to play tomorrow. We haven't made a decision yet. I can only judge his [Anamul's] mentality by his actions. He looks like he is enjoying. We saw that he is fielding brilliantly in the match against Afghanistan. He is training well. Looks like he is enjoying the environment," the Bangladesh head coach remarked regarding Bijoy.