All eyes set on victory: Shakib Al Hasan


Just one day before the nation’s celebrations of the Independence and National Day, the Tigers start their three-match ODI series taking on hosts Sri Lanka in the 1st match at Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium on Saturday.

The day-night match will start at 3:00pm Bangladesh time.

‘(We are) eager to get on the field for the first One day match today. All eyes set on victory!’, Bangladesh ace all-rounder and key player Shakib Al Hasan posted on his Facebook page.

Mashrafe Bin Mortaza’s men have the chance to add colour to the nation’s celebrations of the Independence and National Day getting off to the series in a winning note. This will also be a great honour to the martyrs, including cricketers Shaheed Jewel and Shaheed Mushtaque, who sacrificed their lives for the country’s independence in 1971.

The Tigers will take the field on March 25 which Bangladesh officially declared the ‘Mass Killing Day’ and it is taking preparations to write to the United Nations seeking its international recognition. And a win in the first match on the day will be a symbolic solidarity of the Tigers to the demand.

After the landmark win over Sri Lanka in the 2nd Test, a fully strong and fresh-minded Bangladesh will look to keep the momentum in the limited-over match too as the Tigers track record in ODIs against Sri Lanka is better than in other formats of cricket, having four wins and one no result in 38 outings.

If Bangladesh can keep the momentum and win the series, they will directly play the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in England and can spend the next two years planning on making the roadmap to Lord’s.

Mashrafe’s side which was expanded to 17-member one drafting in Mehedi Hasan, the 19-year-old off-spinner, has no worries about injury or lack of strength. Mehedi’s call-up to the limited-overs side is the fruit of his labours during the preceding Test series which he finished with 10 wickets — the highest from either team.

In the high-scoring warm-up match, which Sri Lanka President’s XI won by two runs, Sabbir Rahman (72), Mahmudullah (71*), Mashrafe (58) and Mosaddek Hossain (53) hit half centuries in their team collection to 352/8 in 50 overs.

Mahmudullah can take inspiration from that performance, perhaps more than his teammates, as he has been under pressure since his omission in the 2nd Test.

Soumya Sarkar has got his batting consistency in the Lanka tour while cutter master Mustafizur Rahman is in the squad as a game changer with his capacity of 10 overs, pacer Rubel Hossain and Taskin Ahmed are the regular bowling force with Subashis Roy, Sunzamul Islam, Shuvagata Hom and Nurul Hasan.

The ODIs must be competitive affairs, and with stakes high in terms of rankings, the results could go the way of the team that holds its nerve better.

Upul Tharanga will captain the Sri Lankan side in place of regular captain Angelo Matthews who is still grappling with injuries.

Kusal Perera, the wicketkeeper-batsman, has also been ruled out of the first two games after having strained his hamstring in Wednesday’s warm-up match against the Bangladesh.

The 2nd day-night ODI will be held at the same venue on March 28 while the 3rd match will be played at Sinhalese Sports Club Ground in Colombo on April 1.

Since March 1986 to December 2016, Bangladesh played 321 ODIs while Sri Lanka played out 732 matches during this period. Sri Lanka played total 789 ODIs since June 1975.

Bangladesh ODI squad: Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Imrul Kayes, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan, Sabbir Rahman, Mahmudullah Riyad, Mosaddek Hossain, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza (captain), Mustafizur Rahman, Rubel Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Subashis Roy, Sunzamul Islam, Shuvagata Hom, Nurul Hasan and Mehedi Hasan Miraz.

Sri Lanka squad: Upul Tharanga (captain), Niroshan Dickwella, Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Mendis, Asela Gunaratne, Dinesh Chandimal (wicket-keeper), Kusal Perera, Danushka Gunathilaka, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Kumara, Vikum Sanjaya, Thisara Perera, Sachith Pathirana, Seekkuge Prassanna and Lakshan Sandakan.