Nidahas Trophy: Bangladesh get Shakib Al Hasan fitness boost for virtual semi-final vs Sri Lanka

Shakib Al Hasan, Bangladesh’s talismanic all-rounder, is likely to feature in the final must-win league game of the Nidahas Trophy tri-series against Sri Lanka on Friday as they eye a spot in the final versus India.

cricket Updated: Mar 15, 2018 20:29 IST
Siddharth Vishwanathan
Siddharth Vishwanathan
Hindustan Times, Colombo
Nidahas Trophy,Sri Lanka vs Bangladesh,Shakib Al Hasan
While Bangladesh have been bolstered by the return of Shakib Al Hasan for their final game of the Nidahas Trophy, hosts Sri Lanka will have to do the job without their regular skipper Dinesh Chandimal (not in pic), who is serving a two-match suspension. (Twitter )

After five games in the Nidahas Trophy T20 tri-series, Friday’s final league game between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will be a virtual semi-final with the winner to take on India in the final. (NIDAHAS TROPHY FULL COVERAGE)

Despite losing against India, Bangladesh head into the contest against Sri Lanka high on confidence. The Mahmudullah-led side has won its last two T20 games at the R Premadasa Stadium with the last match against Sri Lanka featuring the fourth highest successful run-chase of 215.

However, the biggest factor is the likely return of talismanic all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, who has not played competitive cricket for over a month because of a finger injury.

(Read | Nidahas Trophy: Sri Lanka fret over bowling, over-rate ahead of do-or-die clash)

Shakib’s return will boost Bangladesh’s batting and bowling, but he will have to pass a fitness test first. For many Bangladesh supporters though, his recovery could not have been timed better.

Shaky batting, bowling

Shakib’s potential inclusion will provide depth to batting, which has held firm due to Mushfiqur Rahim’s sublime form. The wicketkeeper-batsman, with 162 runs at an average of 162 in the tri-series so far, helped Bangladesh get over the line in the 215-run chase against Sri Lanka. Against India, he threatened a repeat but could not help the side chase down 177.

(Read | Nidahas Trophy: Washington Sundar relishing challenge of bowling in powerplays)

Bangladesh interim head coach Courtney Walsh said in the pre-match press conference that the other batsmen must also contribute. “It will be good if other batters step up and relieve the pressure Rahim is facing. He has been playing well and we want him to maintain consistency,” the former West Indies pace great added.

Tamim Iqbal, Liton Das and Soumya Sarkar have all given aggressive starts but none have capitalised. Shakib’s inclusion can boost the top order and lay a platform for Rahim to finish the innings. With the ball, Shakib will be the designated leader of the attack, giving spinners in his team a boost.

(Read | Nidahas Trophy: Mahmudullah rues death bowling and lack of partnerships for loss vs India)

Improved bowling

Sri Lanka’s inability to defend 215 and their not seizing the moment after India lost four wickets cheaply has been a major concern. Coach Chandika Hathurusingha said the team has not bowled well on pitches that have been very good.

The likes of pacer Dushmantha Chameera and versatile spinner Akila Dananjaya have struggled, but the young spinner bounced back with two wickets in the powerplay stages against India. In batting, Kusal Mendis and Kusal Perera have been outstanding, but have had little support.

“Our batting is very good, it’s been easy to score runs off the new ball and during field restrictions, so we’re maximising that. If you look at our last five T20s, our record is better than during our previous 10 matches overall,” Hathurusingha said.

Both teams have struggled for consistency in both departments and relied on inspired individual performances to drag them through. In this virtual semi-final, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will be eyeing a thorough all-round show.

First Published: Mar 15, 2018 18:29 IST