Sri Lanka draw first blood
Lasith Malinga with a searing five-wicket haul powered Sri Lanka to a thrilling 12-run win after Lahiru Thirimanne scored his second ODI ton in the opening match of the Asia Cup at the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium in Fatullah yesterday.
The second match of the regional tournament today will see hosts Bangladesh taking on India at the same venue, with the game scheduled to begin at 2:00 pm and will be broadcast live on Channel 9.
Thirimanne put on a 161-run second-wicket partnership with Kumar Sangakkara, and along with a quickfire fifty in the death overs from skipper Angelo Mathews, formed the foundation for their score of 296 for six. Pakistan, after a stuttering start, rallied with a 121-run fifth-wicket partnership between Misbahul Haq and Umar Akmal, but Malinga's brilliance proved too much to resist as they were all out for 284 in the 49th over.
Before the start of the match, a minute's silence was observed in memory of those killed during the BDR carnage five years back.
The stadium was only at a third of full capacity for the first floodlit game at this venue, but that will surely change in today's match. It may be an uphill task for the hosts if the wickets at Fatullah are anything to go by. If the powerful Indian batting line-up gets first use of the wicket, things may turn sour for the Tigers very quickly. India may bat first anyway as the Tigers will be wary of fielding second under lights, with the dew factor and their slew of spinners.
With Tamim Iqbal out injured and Shakib Al Hasan currently serving a three-match ban, Bangladesh will bear a slightly different look. Ziaur Rahman may take the place of the dropped Mahmudullah Riyad as the seam-bowling all-rounder at number seven. Naeem Islam is likely to bat at number five in Shakib's absence and Arafat Sunny, who played in the 3-0 defeat to Sri Lanka, will likely make way for returning veteran left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak.
India, although without regular captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, will look to batting tyro Virat Kohli to provide guidance and make a turnaround of their own after winless tours of South Africa and New Zealand.
Although the form book favours India heavily, fans will remember that the Tigers tend to lift when they play India and the players will draw upon memories of the rousing victory over the same opponents in the previous edition in 2012. Also, it seems the Tigers are just one victory away from regaining confidence, and one against India without Shakib and Tamim, although unlikely, will do just that.