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.
Key MenBangladesh’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.
Only Two Head-To-Head Results2013: One-off T20I: Sri Lanka won by 17 runs in Pallekele2007: World T20, Group F: Sri Lanka won by 64 runs in Johannesburg
SquadsBangladesh: 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.
FixturesFirst T20I: Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, Chittagong, 12 FebruarySecond T20I: Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, Chittagong