Tigers set for fresh start against Sri Lanka
From a shock defeat to Scotland in the first round to eventually qualifying for the Super 12, Bangladesh have seen both sides of the coin in their short time at the ICC T20 World Cup. Mahmudullah Riyad's troops will now begin their Super 12 journey with a game against Sri Lanka in Group 1 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium today. The game will begin at 4:00pm Bangladesh standard time.
In the evening, the flagship event will witness an epic Group 2 clash between arch-rivals India and Pakistan at the Dubai International Cricket stadium, the frenzy created by which can be observed on the streets of the UAE.
Although the India captain Virat Kohli and his Pakistani counterpart Babar Azad will be taking it as just another game, emotions related to this historic face-off always give it a deeper significance. Pakistan have never been able to beat India in the T20 World Cup in five attempts, but considering the form guide, both teams are evenly matched.
Meanwhile, the Bangladesh dressing room has taken on a dense environment following the six-run defeat to Scotland. Intense criticism followed that defeat, with even Bangladesh Cricket Board president Nazmul Hassan remarking about the poor showing from the Tigers.
However, Bangladesh head coach Russell Domingo stated yesterday that the players are focused on upcoming matches and were not concerned by what was being said on the outside.
"The focus will be on cricket, not concern about what is being said outside the team, be it in the media or anywhere else. My concern is about my team and making sure my team is preparing well for tomorrow (Sunday) mentally and physically," Domingo said during a pre-match press conference yesterday.
Bangladesh's main weapon against Sri Lanka will be premier all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, who was in terrific form during the three first-round matches in Oman. The left-hander, who has 675 runs in 28 T20 World Cup matches, has a chance to leapfrog South Africa legend AB de Villiers (717 runs) into fifth place in the list of top run-getters at the T20 World Cup.
With 39 wickets, Shakib is also joint-top among leading wicket-takers in the T20 World Cup. He can go past Pakistan's Shahid Afridi and make a spot for himself at the top with just one scalp.
Recent scores suggest that the pitch in Sharjah will be slow and it will be difficult for batters to score freely, so the Tigers must be watchful of Sri Lanka's bowling, which was instrumental to them winning all three of their first-round games. Leg-spinning all-rounder Wanindu Hasaranga can play a vital role against the Tigers.
The two sides have met each other eleven times in T20Is, with Sri Lanka managing seven wins and Bangladesh winning four times.