Final tune-up for both sides ahead of ICC World T20

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Bangladesh’s position against New Zealand and Sri Lanka’s stop-start governance of Pakistan allowed for experimentation and preparation, with this two-match series bound to finalise those combinations.

Neither team have announced their official squads for the World Twenty20, but the bulk – if not all – of the 30 players on show this week will be at next month’s showpiece in Dhaka and surrounds.

And so opportunity knocks for a head-start, of sorts, in conditions entirely in line with what will be faced in more pressurised situations in March. Sri Lanka have seen it all before, while Bangladesh will again know the shortest format of the game is the one most suited.

Personnel-wise, opener Tamim Iqbal’s decision to resign from the vice-captaincy is correct. The seasoned batsman, indeed, needs to prioritise runs at the top of the order. The uncapped Mithun Ali, meanwhile, will want to prove a worthy understudy to the temporarily injured Mushfiqur Rahim.

The veteran Tillakaratne Dilshan was prompt in pinpointing captain Dinesh Chandimal, batsman Kusal Perera and spinner Sachithra Senanayake as key to Sri Lanka’s cause.

His testament will be appropriate for this series – and the WT20. Chandimal, consistently questioned for a lack of big contributions and criticised as an inadequate successor to former T20 skipper Angelo Mathews, has plenty to prove.

Twenty20 contests between the burgeoning sub-continental rivals have been relatively far and few between. This week is their maiden bilateral series – a fitting fact for a poignant precursor to the World T20.

Sri Lanka will begin a two-match T20I series against host Bangladesh from 12 February in Chittagong by putting its number one position on the Reliance ICC T20I Team Rankings Table on the line.

Sri Lanka enters the series as the number-one ranked side with 129 ratings points, leading 10th ranked Bangladesh by 57 ratings points. Only eight ratings points separate the top four sides, with India (123 points), South Africa (123 points) and Pakistan (121 points) close on the heels of the number-one ranked side.

As such, because the rankings are weighted to reflect this difference, Sri Lanka will lose its top position if it loses both matches in the series. In such a scenario, Sri Lanka will drop nine ratings points and three places to fourth position with 120 ratings points, handing the top position to India.

Sri Lanka needs to win one of the two matches in the series to retain the number-one position.

Bangladesh will stay in 10th position irrespective of the outcome of the series.

This is the final tune-up for both sides ahead of the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014, which commences on 16 March 2014. 

Key Men

Bangladesh’s seam department is always a veritable mixed bag, plateaued and peaked by the stalwart Mashrafe Mortaza, who will also captain the side in Rahim’s absence.

Opener Kusal Perera is quickly proving a formidable force at the top of the knock, and is steadily being primed to succeed Dilshan, when the recent Test retiree exits international cricket entirely.

Head-To-Head

2013: One-off T20I: Sri Lanka won by 17 runs in Pallekele

2007: World T20, Group F: Sri Lanka won by 64 runs in Johannesburg

Squads

Bangladesh: Tamim Iqbal, Anamul Haque, Shamsur Rahman, Mithun Ali, Mominul Hoque, Shakib Al Hasan, Nasir Hossain, Shabbir Rahman, Mohammad Mahmudullah, Sohag Gazi, Arafat Sunny, Farhad Reza, Mashrafe Mortaza (captain), Rubel Hossain, Al-Amin Hossain.

Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal (captain), Lasith Malinga, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Rangana Herath, Mahela Jayawardene, Nuwan Kulasekara, Suranga Lakmal, Angelo Mathews, Ajantha Mendis, Angelo Perera, Kusal Perera, Thisara Perera, Seekkuge Prasanna, Kumar Sangakkara, Sachithra Senanayake.

Fixtures

First T20I: Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, Chittagong, 12 February

Second T20I: Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, Chittagong