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Under Pressure Sri Lanka Look to Give Malinga Fitting Farewell Against Bangladesh

Cricketnext Staff |July 24, 2019, 4:26 PM IST
Under Pressure Sri Lanka Look to Give Malinga Fitting Farewell Against Bangladesh

Sri Lankan captain Dimuth Karunaratne had, at the end of their campaign at the 2019 ICC World Cup, said that the process for rebuilding begins immediately, and first on their agenda will be the visiting Bangladesh.

For the Lankans, the first of the three ODIs (July 26) at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo in the series will also be the farewell match for ace fast bowler Lasith Malinga, a player they will be looking replace at the earliest.

Malinga, 35, is Sri Lanka's third-highest ODI wicket-taker with 335 wickets from 225 matches, behind only Chaminda Vaas (399) and Muttiah Muralitharan (523). Malinga needs three wickets to overhaul Anil Kumble's 337 for ninth place on the international list.

Karunaratne acknowledged that replacing Malinga is just one of the many challenges his side faces at this point in time. The likes of Kusal Perera, Avishka Fernando, Kusal Mendis and Angelo Mathews will all be expected to step up and turn a corner.

The Lankans will need to focus on all three departments during the series as the batting, fielding and bowling showed major weaknesses during the World Cup.

What’s more is that coach Chandika Hathurusingha and his assistants will be shown the door after the Bangladesh series because of their sixth-place finish in England and Wales.

The likes of Niroshan Dickwella, Lahiru Kumara, Akila Dananjaya and Lakshan Sandakan, who all missed out on the World Cup, are back for the ODI series against Bangladesh and will be looking to leave their mark.

The hosts have also left out Milinda Siriwardena, Jeffrey Vandersay, Suranga Lakmal and Jeevan Mendis, while Dinesh Chandimal has been dropped too. Nuwan Pradeep, who has just recovered from chicken pox, is back in the unusually large squad of 22.

Bangladesh, who finished eighth of the 10 teams, are also starting afresh after the World Cup, having sacked coached Steve Rhodes. They are also missing key players including skipper Mashrafe Mortaza and inspirational vice-captain Shakib Al Hasan. Mohammad Saifuddin and Liton Das have also been rested for this tour.

Mashrafe has a hamstring injury while Shakib, who scored 606 runs and claimed 11 wickets in the World Cup, is being rested.

Mashrafe picked up the injury during a training session shortly after he attended Bangladesh team’s formal press conference in Mirpur ahead of the tour.

Opening batsman Tamim Iqbal, interim captain for the series, expects the newer lot to take their chances.

Bangladesh began their tour with a five wicket win against Sri Lanka Board President's XI, and have included fast bowler Shafiul Islam to their squad for the tour. Mohammad Mithun and Mushfiqur Rahim were among the runs while Rubel Hossain and Soumya Sarkar were among the wickets in the match, which augurs well for the visitors.

The Tigers have also recalled Anamul Haque and Taijul Islam, with Khaled Mahmud, the manager at the World Cup, taking over as interim coach for this series.

Anamul's last appearance for Bangladesh came against West Indies 12 months ago, while left-arm spinner Taijul played the last of his four ODIs in September 2016.

Bangladesh are the first foreign sports team to visit Sri Lanka since the Easter Sunday suicide attacks this year, which killed more than 250 people.

The team were given security usually reserved for visiting state dignitaries, with extra forces at their hotel and armed guards for their bus.

The visitors, on paper and on current form, would seem the more dangerous side, but with both sides looking to turn over a new leaf with new faces, it is likely to be anyone’s game.

The first of the three ODIs will be played on July 26, the second two days later and the final match on July 31. All three games will be played at the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.

Squads:

Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunarathna (captain), Kusal Perera, Avishka Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Lahiru Thirimane, Shehan Jayasuriya, Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Danushka Gunathileke, Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Akila Dananjaya, Amila Aponso, Lakshan Sandakan, Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Pradeep, Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Kumara, Thisara Perera, Isuru Udana, Lahiru Madusanka

Bangladesh: Tamim Iqbal (Captain), Soumya Sarkar, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah Riad, Mohammad Mithun, Mosaddek Hossain Saikat, Sabbir Rahman, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Anamul Haque Bijoy, Mehedi Hasan Miraz, Mohammad Saifuddin, Taijul Islam and Shafiul Islam.

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