April 13, 2024

Two South Asian nations are set to resume their heated cricket rivalry with a Twenty20 three-match series as they eye the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup 2024.

Bangladesh and Sri Lanka – not India and Pakistan – will play the first match T20 series in Sylhet, Bangladesh on Monday, less than three months ahead of cricket’s showpiece event of the year.

Bangladesh captain Najmul Hossain Shanto said on Sunday that he wants his team to use the series to perfect the format ahead of the World Cup in June.

The series marks the start of Sri Lanka’s month-long tour of Bangladesh, which also includes three one-day internationals and two Tests.

Shanto said it was critical to “play as a team”, noting that they bagged big wins last year when “everyone contributed”.

Bangladesh defeated world champions England 3-0 at home in 2023, and also won series against the Republic of Ireland and Afghanistan, before drawing a three-match series 1-1 against New Zealand.

Shanto said he wanted to keep the momentum going into the World Cup, hosted this year by the United States and the West Indies.

“Last year, we did well in T20s,” he told reporters.

“It is very important that we play eight or 11 matches before going to the World Cup.

“If we take these matches… and decide how we want to play in the World Cup, then it will be easy to plan.”

The World Cup is a key focus of Sri Lanka, too.

Sri Lanka coach Chris Silverwood said he was expecting a “very competitive series between two good sides”.

“Obviously, we’re now in the build-up to what is an important competition in the World Cup,” he said.

“What we have to do … is concentrate on what’s in front of us and remember what we’re aiming for.”

Return of the ‘Nagin dance’ rivalry

The teams have developed a hotly-contested rivalry over the past few years, and every time they meet, there is no shortage of provocative words on the field and placards in the stands.

Venomous on-field celebrations – which started with the “Nagin dance” in 2018 – are almost a permanent fixture as well.

The last time both teams met was in the 50-over World Cup, when Bangladesh won by three wickets, but not without controversial scenes on the ground.

Sri Lanka’s Angelo Mathews became the first cricketer to be dismissed “timed out” in an international match as he failed to take guard and declare himself ready to face the bowler within the stipulated time of two minutes since the dismissal of the last batter.

Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan appealed for a “timed out” dismissal, which was upheld by the on-field umpire.

Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are both in Group D for the World Cup, along with South Africa, Nepal and the Netherlands.

The second and third T20 matches will be held on March 6 and 9, both also at Sylhet.

Sri Lanka, who arrived in Bangladesh on Thursday, will also play three one-day internationals and two Tests during the month-long tour.

Sri Lanka’s Angelo Mathews, third right, talks to umpires after he was declared timed out during the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup match between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in New Delhi, India on November 6, 2023 [File: Manish Swarup/AP]

Head-to-head record

Bangladesh have never defeated Sri Lanka in a Twenty20 series. Both teams have met on 13 occasions and Sri Lanka hold the upper hand with nine wins compared to Bangladesh’s three.

Team news: Bangladesh

Bangladesh have recalled wicketkeeper-batsman Jaker Ali, replacing injured uncapped spinner Aliss Al Islam.

Off-spinner Aliss sustained a finger injury while playing for Comilla Victorians in the recently finished Bangladesh Premier League.

Bangladesh squad: Najmul Hossain Shanto (captain), Litton Das, Anamul Haque, Mohammad Naim, Towhid Hridoy, Soumya Sarkar, Mahedi Hasan, Mahmudullah Riyad, Taijul Islam, Rishad Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman, Shoriful Islam, Tanzim Hasan Sakib, Jaker Ali Anik.

Team news: Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s captain Wanindu Hasaranga will miss the first two matches due to a disciplinary suspension. Meanwhile, Kusal Perera is suffering from a respiratory infection and will be replaced by Niroshan Dickwella.

Sri Lanka squad: Avishka Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Pathum Nissanka, Wanindu Hasaranga (captain), Charith Asalanka, Akila Dananjaya, Dhananjaya de Silva, Angelo Mathews, Kamindu Mendis, Dasun Shanaka, Binura Fernando, Dilshan Madushanka, Matheesha Pathirana, Maheesh Theekshana, Nuwan Thushara, Jeffrey Vandersay

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