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Malinga set to bid adieu as Lions host understrength Tigers

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Roar Guru
25th July, 2019
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The thriller that was the World Cup final still hasn’t sunk in for the 30 players at Lord’s and the many fans who watched it, yet just 12 days later the first post-cup ODI will take place between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in Colombo.

All of the three one-dayers will be held played at the R Premadasa Stadium, which will bring memories of some bad blood between the two sides. Sri Lanka and Bangladesh were battling each other in a T20 match, with the winner going on to take on India in the tri-series final in two days time.

Each wicket during both innings brought out the players channelling their childish selves with their immature and stupid snake dance celebrations. Mahmudullah Riyad smashed Isuru Udana over square leg for six as Bangladesh won by two wickets in a thriller, prompting the whole squad to do the snake dance in elation, providing one of the most cringeworthy moments in international cricket.

Both sides have made quite a few changes to their World Cup squads. Sri Lanka have named a whopping 18-man squad for the series, while Bangladesh have named a 15-man squad with five absentees from among those who played at the World Cup. Shakib Al Hasan has been rested and Liton Das has been allowed to miss the series due to marriage. Abu Jayed has been surprisingly dropped. Captain Mashrafe Mortaza and all=rounder Mohammad Saifuddin have been ruled out due to a hamstring and back injury respectively, which has forced the selectors to turn to Tamim Iqbal to lead the side.

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The flow-on circumstances have led to Anamul Haque, Taijul Islam, Farhad Reza, Shafiul Islam and Taskin Ahmed being recalled and prove to the selectors that they can repay their faith.

Bar Taskin Ahmed and Farhad Reza, the rest of the players shouldn’t have been recalled. Players like Yasir Ali, Afif Hossain, Sunzamul Islam, Abu Hider Rony, Jahurul Islam and Abu Jayed have performed more consistently in the domestic circuit in Bangladesh and should consider themselves very hard done by for not being called up. This is the perfect series to experiment and blood youngsters who have performed consistently and have potential to do well in international cricket, but once again the Bangladesh selectors have taken the safe option and recall players who have shown they are out of their depth in ODI cricket repeatedly.

While I would love to continue ranting about how poor this squad is, I don’t want to remember this series for the questionable selections Bangladesh made. Rather, this series should be remembered for the swansong of one of the greatest modern one-day bowlers once the first ODI ends – Lasith ‘Slinga’ Malinga. His slinging slower and 145-click yorkers and bouncers will be sorely missed in the Sri Lankan camp alongside his irreplaceable experience.

The stacked amount of spinners in Sri Lanka’s squad would make it seem that the pitches in Colombo will unsurprisingly be on the slower side, but should there be any dew around during the second innings, Sri Lanka have the pacers to cover it up.

I criticised the Sri Lankan selectors for the squad they sent to the World Cup squad, but Dimuth Karunaratne’s captaincy has papered over the cracks to an extent with the brand of cricket Sri Lanka have played under him. With captain Mashrafe Mortaza out, Tamim Iqbal has the perfect platform to showcase to the Bangladesh selectors why he should take the reins of the ODI team once Mashrafe retires rather than Shakib being burdened with captaining the side in all three formats.

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While Sri Lanka start slight favourites against an understrength Tigers team, Bangladesh will not give up without a fight. These are conditions which both sides enjoy playing in and we could witness some proper contests between bat and ball rather than the flat tracks dished up in most bilateral series.