BRISTOL, Monday – Sri Lanka are in danger of facing another washout of their World Cup cricket fixture when they take on Bangladesh at the County ground here on Tuesday. The weather forecast for tomorrow is not all that good and the chances are for light rain showers. Hopefully if the rain is not as heavy as the one they experienced three days ago against Pakistan where the game was abandoned without a ball bowled, there is a chance that Sri Lanka could squeeze in a 20-20 contest at least. Otherwise, they will be going into their crucial game against Australia at the Oval on June 15 without having any match practice at all since their win against Afghanistan on June 4. Whatever the weather will be, it all points out to a stop-start contest where both teams will be vying to come out on top.
Sri Lanka’s practice session in the afternoon yesterday was curtailed due to rain.Sri Lanka’s last three meetings with Bangladesh have ended in defeats and they will be keen to put the record straight more so this being a World Cup fixture crucial to both teams who are keen to finish within the first four to qualify for a place in the knockouts.
Playing 9 matches against the top ten Test playing nations is certainly a test of character and skill for all the teams and Sri Lanka, a side loaded with several players experiencing their first World Cup will be lucky if they can come through that period unscathed. It’s a tough ask from a team that has failed to click in all departments consistently.
Jon Lewis, the Lankan batting coach said, “There’s no doubt at all that there’s a hell of a challenge ahead of us but we also do have a lot of confidence in the players we have in our dressing room and a lot of faith in them.”The core issue with Sri Lanka has been the batting department that has failed to make use of good starts to put up a decent total for their bowlers to defend. Sri Lanka has not topped the 300-run mark in their last 9 ODIs if the game against Scotland is to be discounted. Lewis, the former Durham head coach is confident that it is only a matter of time before the batsmen start to fire and put the required runs on the board.
“The mood is pretty good in the camp. Obviously to be here a few days ago and not get to play was frustrating, but we were still coming off the back of a win against Afghanistan,” said Lewis at the pre-match press conference on Monday. “We needed that as we were possibly a bit low before that, so we’re still effectively coming off the back of our last game which was a win, so we’re in pretty good shape. “In the last game we made a great start, part of that was caused by us playing some good cricket but Afghanistan were not playing at their best with the new ball,” said Lewis. “As they improved we didn’t recognise the fact that they have improved and we expected them to carry on at the same levels. It was our fault, we opened the door and gave them the opportunity to push on through and when they were on a high they were very good and put a lot of pressure on us.”
Talking of Sri Lanka’s batting failures Lewis said, “I think going into the World Cup we would have thought that if we got starts, if we got through that new ball period, we would probably be in decent shape. “We have some experienced players in the middle with Kusal Mendis and Angelo Mathews. They obviously haven’t quite fired yet. I’m confident players of that quality will definitely come to the party soon so it was good to get a win when we were not at our best but we do need more from some of the batters. “With Angelo you have to have faith in a guy who has done as much as he has over a long period of time and he tells me he is in a good place and good headspace. I have no reason to doubt that the runs will come from him while Mendis could do with a little bit of a confidence boost, I think for him it’s a case of just getting through those first 20 balls,” Lewis said.
On the challenge that a side like Bangladesh has to offer Lewis said, “They are a very good side, there is no doubt about it, they’ve had a tough start to the World Cup in terms of fixtures but they’ve put in good performances even in games they haven’t won. “That suggests that they are going to be a tough opposition for everybody, so we know that, but our focus will be on us and us being positive about ourselves. “We’ll believe that even though it’s a strong opposition and an opposition that have every right to be confident because of the way they have played so far, we’ll be backing ourselves strongly.
“It will be tough and Bangladesh have had a couple of decent results against Sri Lanka but this is a World Cup situation and we have seen that it’s different to bi-lateral one-day tournaments,” he said. Sri Lanka will be without Nuwan Pradeep for this game and his place is expected to be filled by Suranga Lakmal.
IT’S A TOUGH WORLD CUP SAYS MORTAZA
Bangladesh reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup for the first time in 2015 and when their captain Mashrafe Mortaza was asked what goals they have set for themselves for the 2019 World Cup, he replied, ““If you are asking all 10 captains this question, they will look to the semis, which is an honest call. It’s not easy, especially in the conditions -- they are different from Asia. Obviously we would like to be in the semis but right now, the calculation is difficult.
“If we could manage to win one of those matches -- against New Zealand or England -- it could have been a lot easier, but at the moment it looks very difficult, but again I’d say it’s very much possible. We have to make sure we come back onto the winning track and then have a look at what happens next.”