The qualifying hurdle behind them accomplished clinically, Sri Lanka mount their ICC T20 World Cup 2021 campaign into the harsher tough terrain of the Super 12 Stage carrying a slight edge over Bangladesh today Sunday at the Sharjah Cricket Ground at 3.30 given the tournament history of 7 wins to 4 of the past and the run up in the qualifiers where Dasun Shanaka’s charges march was clinical to their opponents having been thrashed by less fancied Scotland before clearing the bar in a must win eleventh hour desperation over Papua Guinea.
But having said that, in a tournament where the fittest survive where bowling will be as key to batting in the world’s fast fad showpiece as demonstrated in the qualifying stage, Sri Lanka would be carrying the handicap of not having the services of carom ball mystery spinner Maheesh Theekshana in the head to head equation between the two sides where he is the second highest tournament wicket taker with 8 scalps to Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan who is the leading wicket taker topping 10 and a total of 39 wickets in the 7-match tournament history. Therein, in a countdown to the big showdown there isn’t much to separate the two sides in terms of strength, the Lankans will carry the buoying element of a resurgent winning script on perfect all-round harmonisation in topping Group A to the Super 12 Group A joining England, Australia, South Africa, West Indies. Comparatively, Bangladesh making it in stop start last gasp to the big spoils of Group B alongside India, Pakistan, New Zealand and Afghanistan having ended second in Group B after winners Scotland. It will be a weak point Shanaka and his men will seek to thrive on the Bangladeshis defeat to the Scotts in a first round that also saw Namibia dump the more fancies Ireland in a final spurt to the Super stage from Group A.
In the final analysis, how well the Lankans get their batting department going will be crucial to gelling in a run up from individual brilliance to the big runs on the board that matter. Avishka Fernando has been in the forefront while the emergence of Pathum Nissanka manning the opening slot and Kusal Janith tuning up in the final game against the Netherlands shrugging injury layoff is heartening. But it will be a different ball game altogether where the Lankan top order will be up against all-round depth that Bangladesh bank on and will certainly be no pushovers despite their misadventure at the hands of Scotland. The Lankan camp will look to the top order coming out of a disappointing cocoon of bad starts where the form of Dinesh Chandimal in particular has been worrying. Bhanuka Rajapaksa has proved he could rise to the occasion as he did by his unbeaten 42 in taking Sri Lanka to victory over Namibia. The Lankan camp has importantly underlined there are potential match winners who could be rotated up the order in a crisis as in the case of Wanindu Hasaranga who did the job promoted to No.5 with a whirlwind 71 to lift the side from 3 for 8 versus Ireland.
On the bowling front, leggie WFanindu Hasaranga has been spot on and much will depend on him carrying the handicap of Theekshana where how well skipper Shanaka compensates for will be crucial by way of a send specialist spinner where the experienced Akila Dananjaya would be the next best option. A pep up tonic is that the pace bowling front has evolved with the inform Dushmantha Chameera finding good support from Chamika Karunaratne and Lahiru Kumara.
From the Group 12 it is a battle of the very best in T20 cricket with only the top two from each group reaching the semi-finals.
Sri Lanka Squad:
Dasun Shanaka (Capt.), Kusal Janith Perera, Dinesh Chandimal, Dhananjaya de Silva, Pathum Nissanka, Charith Asalanka, Avishka Fernando, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Chamika Karunaratne, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dushmantha Chameera, Lahiru Kumara, Maheesh Theekshana, Akila Dananjaya, Binura Fernando.
Mahmudullah (Capt.), Naim Sheikh, Soumya Sarkar. Liton Das, Mushfiqur Rahim, Nurul Hasan, Shakib Al Hasan, Afif Hossain, Mahedi Hasan, Mohammad Saifuddin, Shammim Hossain. Mustafizur Rahman, Taskin Ahmed, Nasun Ahmed, Shoriful Islam.
T20 World Cup 2021 Super-12 Schedule:
|23/10/21||Australia vs South Africa||3:30 PM|
|23/10/21||England vs West Indies||7:30 PM|
|24/10/21||Sri Lanka vs Bangladesh||3:30 PM|
|24/10/21||India vs Pakistan||7:30 PM|
|25/10/21||Afghanistan vs Scotland||7:30 PM|
|26/10/21||South Africa vs West Indies||3:30 PM|
|26/10/21||Pakistan vs New Zealand||7:30 PM|
|27/10/21||England vs Bangladesh||3:30 PM|
|27/10/21||Scotland vs Namibia||7:30 PM|
|28/10/21||Australia vs Sri Lanka||7:30 PM|
|29/10/21||West Indies vs Bangladesh||3:30 PM|
|29/10/21||Afghanistan vs Pakistan||7:30 PM|
|30/10/21||South Africa vs Sri Lanka||3:30 PM|
|30/10/21||England vs Australia||7:30 PM|
|31/10/21||Afghanistan vs Namibia||3:30 PM|
|31/10/21||India vs New Zealand||7:30 PM|
|1/11/21||England vs Sri Lanka||7:30 PM|
|21/11/21||South Africa vs Bangladesh||3:30 PM|
|2/11/21||Pakistan vs Namibia||7:30 PM|
|3/11/21||New Zealand vs Scotland||3:30 PM|
|3/11/21||India vs Afghanistan||7:30 PM|
|4/11/21||Australia vs Bangladesh||3:30 PM|
|4/11/21||West Indies vs Sri Lanka||7:30 PM|
|5/11/21||New Zealand vs Namibia||3:30 PM|
|5/11/21||India vs Scotland||7:30 PM|
|6/11/21||Australia vs West Indies||3:30 PM|
|6/11/21||England vs South Africa||7:30 PM|
|7/11/21||New Zealand vs Afghanistan||3:30 PM|
|7/11/21||Pakistan vs Scotland||7:30 PM|
|8/11/21||India vs Namibia||7:30 PM|
|10/11/21||Semi Final – TBC vs TBC||7:30 PM|
|11/11/21||Semi Final – TBC vs TBC||7:30 PM|
|14/11/21||FINAL – TBC vs TBC||7:30 PM|