Big Picture: Problems to address for both teams
Well, this might not be quite the must-win scenario either of these sides would have been envisioned being involved in towards the tail-end of this tournament, but the ICC’s confirmation that the top seven finishers (and hosts Pakistan) will gain qualification for the 2025 Champions Trophy has given what would have been a largely inconsequential dead rubber some much needed purpose.
Both sides’ troubles are well documented. Since their opening game win against Afghanistan, Bangladesh have lost six on the trot. Only England have a worse record, and Bangladesh have lost to them too. For a side that had won 24 of 39 ODIs since the start of 2021 – a 61% win record – this has been the most underwhelming of tournaments, especially in conditions that on the face of it looked like it might have suited them.
The unsettling of a settled batting order could be pinpointed as one of the key reasons for this downturn in fortunes. They will be hoping to regain enough lost ground to overcome a Sri Lankan side that has its own set of issues.
Sri Lanka, for their part, have done what they’ve always done – at least in the recent past – mixing in brilliance with despair, jubilation with fatalism. Whichever way you splice it, this was an undercooked Sri Lanka side at least in terms of ODIs – one geared towards a T20-style and rediscovering its ODI bearings. It was also one apparently caught up in muddled thinking.
“I want them to be aggressive to be honest,” stated head coach Chris Silverwood prior to their defeat to India, and after an oddly timid display against Afghanistan. “I want them to play their game and obviously do things their way but have a positive mindset.”
All sound in theory, but words that were betrayed by the fact that their sole aggressive opening option – Kusal Perera – was dropped for both losses to Afghanistan and India, in favor of the considerably more conservative Dimuth Karunaratne. Whether they stick with that will almost certainly speak towards the approach they’re likely to take in this game.
And this is all without getting into the crux of the off-field issues, where the fallout from their campaign has seen a public back and forth between the country’s sports minister and Sri Lanka Cricket, while there have been questions posed of the impact of the coaching staff and whispers of a selection committee shake-up. Hardly the ideal context to elicit fearless, aggressive cricket.
Bangladesh – LLLLL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
Sri Lanka -LLWWL
In the spotlight: Mushfiqur Rahim and Dilshan Madushanka
Mushfiqur Rahim started this tournament at No. 6, a position he had played in for the previous seven months, though not one he had occupied for the five years prior to that. But with just 171 runs at an average of 28.50 across this tournament, he is now back at his favored No. 4 slot. Of his 7577 ODI runs, 4372 have come at four, while his average in that role of 42.03 is a significant uptick from his career average of 36.78 and the 37.35 he was producing at six. His 33 innings and 1062 runs against Sri Lanka is also only second to his 47 innings and 1437 runs against Zimbabwe. This may have been largely a World Cup to forget for Mushfiqur but now back in a familiar role against familiar opposition, Bangladesh will be banking on him to help end their tournament on a high.
Sri Lanka’s tournament might have been one largely to forget, but you don’t have to strain hard for the silver linings. Kusal Mendis had a roaring start and Sadeera Samarawickrama has been a middle order revelation, but it’s Dilshan Madushanka that has firmly left his mark. In seven games so far he’s picked up 18 wickets – the second best in the tournament so far – and gone wicketless just once, taking at least two in every other game including a maiden five-for against India – a game in which his impact trumped that of an attack that ransacked their opponents for just 55. His list of victims is already a veritable list of modern-day batting greats, and he’s still only 23.
Team news: Kusal Perera back?
Bangladesh rejigged their batting order against Pakistan and it’s likely to stay the same.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Litton Das, 2 Tanzid Hasan, 3 Najmul Hossain Shanto, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk) 5 Mahmudullah, 6 Shakib Al Hasan (capt), 7 Mehidy Hasan Miraz, 8 Towhid Hridoy, 9 Taskin Ahmed, 10 Mustafizur Rahman , 11 Shoriful Islam.
Sri Lanka might opt to bring Kusal Perera back into the fold after Dimuth Karunaratne failed to impress in his stead. Dushan Hemantha could also make way for Dunith Wellalage if Sri Lanka opt for more batting strength.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Pathum Nissanka, 2 Kusal Perera/Dimuth Karunaratne, 3 Kusal Mendis (capt, wk) 4 Sadeera Samarawickrama, 5 Charith Asalanka, 6 Angelo Mathews 7 Dushan Hemantha 8 Maheesh Theekshana, 9 Kasun Rajitha, 10 Dushmantha Chameera 11 Dilshan Madushanka
Pitch and conditions
The top two highest scores at Kotla have come during this World Cup, and Sri Lanka will be keenly aware of the nature of this surface having leaked 428 runs against South Africa last month.
The overall weather conditions in Delhi though have worsened since then, with both sides canceling scheduled practice sessions over the past few days due to poor air quality. Any call on the match perhaps not taking place will only be taken on the day of the game.
Stats and trivia
- Dilshan Madushanka is five wickets away from equalizing Chaminda Vaas and Muthiah Muralidaran – 23 – for the most wickets by a Sri Lankan in a World Cup. He currently is level with Lasith Malinga on 18.
- Of active players, Shakib Al Hasan has the fourth most runs in ODI World Cups with 1250, and the most of any Bangladesh player.
- Shakib’s 41 World Cup wickets is the second-most taken by a spinner. Muralidaran has the most with 68.
“Our doctor has kept a close eye on players. Some of the players didn’t turn up for practice because they are asthmatic so they stayed in indoors. And even for practice, we’re very conscious. We train what we have to train , and they go back into the dressing room. They don’t spend time unless they’re bowling or batting.”
Chandika HathurusingheBangladesh’s head coach, on the measures they have taken to combat the air pollution in Delhi