Sri Lanka’s newly inducted ODI captain Kusal Janith Perera will face the biggest challenge in his career as to whether he can rise above the odds leading a new look fresher oriented side against an experienced Bangladesh outfit of star performers known to revel in their own backyard in tomorrow’s first of three ODIs at Dhaka.
Although the hosts have experienced two consecutive away series defeats to the West Indies and New Zealand, back home the hosts will have things to their liking as the selectors excluding five players including Najmul Hossain Shanto following the 3-nil whitewash to New Zealand for the first two matches with Shakib Al Hasan recalled to a 15-member squad.
Predictably, it will be a tall task for the Lankan skipper of overcoming the home odds Tamim Iqbal’s Bangladeshis bask in as Sri Lanka’s torchbearer questing for a new aura he has been tasked with by the national selectors will be primetime reality for the 30-year old skipper. The resonating pre-match hype of an air of a slinger like high noon showdown in cricket’s cowboy version of the game to the contest will be the very uncanny daring trade mark dash Kusal Janith Perera, known to thrive in the game by his attacking stroke play, will carry upfront. The brute force the 30-year old, who thrives in the Master Blaster Sanath Jayasuriya mould, has displayed in the cowboy version of the game where relatively his T20 standings too are a lending factor to his forte notwithstanding the breathtaking hammering he unleashed on the South Africans in taking Sri Lanka to an improbable historic Test triumph by a rollicking unbeaten 153 are traits of a deliverer capable of turning on the Bangladeshis. Indeed, it will be a fiery two-way baptism of leading from the front with the bat and decision maker. Similarly, his 26-year old deputy Kusal Mendis will as much find him cast in a dual role of carrying new responsibility as well as delivering with the bat where he faces the acid test of coming out of a recent bad form holocaust of four consecutive ducks in his last four outings. On his side is that uncanny element of rediscovering the magical form by which he cut loose to the game for some awesome stroke-play that saw him likened by some experts to another Virat Kohli in the making. While that element of the namesake Kusals does create great expectations to the Sri Lankan camp, capable batters such as Danushka Gunathilaka slotted to pair with the skipper upfront, and the inform Mr. Reliable of the side Dhananjaya de Silva, all-rounder Wanindu Hasaranga, seasoned wicket-keeper batsman Niroshan Dikwella and the latest new find options find youth options in all-rounders Ashen Bandara and Ramesh Mendis in the reckoning who will be challenged for a place by Pathum Nissanka form quite a cast to draw from with Isuru Udana, who can is also a handy lower order batsman likely to spearhead the bowling with other fast bowling options being Dushmantha Chameera, Binura Fernando, Chamika Karunaratne, and Shiran Fernando.
On paper, on the basis of the last five exchanges between the two sides, Sri Lanka has the edge having won three as against Bangladesh’s one with one abandoned.
SRI LANKA SQUAD: Kusal Perera (capt), Kusal Mendis (vice-capt), Danushka Gunathilaka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Pathum Nissanka, Dasun Shanaka, Ashen Bandara, Wanindu Hasaranga, Isuru Udana, Akila Dananjaya, Niroshan Dickwella, Dushmantha Chameera, Ramesh Mendis, Asitha Fernando, Lakshan Sandakan, Chamika Karunaratne, Binura Fernando, Shiran Fernando.
BANGLADESH XI : Tamim Iqbal (C), Liton Das, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim (WK), Soumya Sarkar, Mahmudullah, Mosaddek Hossain / Mahedi Hasan, Mohammad Saifuddin, Mehidy Hasan, Taskin Ahmed and Mustafizur Rahman.