Tigers' virtual semi against SL today | Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 16, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:34 AM, March 16, 2018

Tigers' virtual semi against SL today

Shakib likely to play as regular member if fit

Sri Lanka coach Chandika Hathurusingha's answer of yes was a quick one after he was asked whether he knew of Shakib Al Hasan's last-minute inclusion in the Bangladesh squad ahead of today's crucial Nidahas Trophy match between the two sides.

T20I skipper Shakib's inclusion will certainly have contrasting effects on the teams. Bangladesh will have the much-needed morale boost in the virtual semifinal of the T20I tri-nation tournament against Sri Lanka to take place at the R Premadasa Stadium today. India have already made it to Sunday's final by virtue of winning three out of their four league games.

Meanwhile, although returning from injury, Shakib's inclusion will certainly force the Sri Lankan team management to re-think the game plan and their defeat against Bangladesh on Saturday despite posting 214 will also be on the back of their minds.

It was learned that if Shakib is passed fit to play by a last-minute assessment before the game today the all-rounder is likely to feature only as a regular member as stand-in skipper Mahmudullah is set to continue leading the team.

The Tigers' team management will have to drop someone to accommodate Shakib, and according to sources close to the team, Bangladesh are going to opt for two seamers in the line up, which means left-arm pacer Abu Hider -- who went for 21 runs in his last over after conceding 22 in his first three against India in the previous game -- will make way if Shakib is fit.

Other than that possible change, the Bangladesh line-up is expected to be the same as in the match against India and the Tigers will be looking to bank on three spinners in left-arm spinner Nazmul Islam, off-spinner Mehedi Hasan Miraz and Shakib, while pacer Rubel Hossain -- who bowled brilliantly against India -- will lead the pace bowling with Mustafizur Rahman.

Bangladesh did not practice yesterday; they instead sat for a team meeting in the evening after Shakib joined the side and the players looked in good spirits ahead of the crucial encounter.

Sri Lanka, on the other hand, have a lot to work on after the bowlers were unable to defend the tall total of 214 against Bangladesh when the likes of pacers Dushmantha Chameera and Nuwan Pradeep proved expensive and ineffective. The inclusion of Suranga Lakmal against India also did not go well and the team management may opt for left-arm seamer Isuru Udana today.

But it is off-spinner Akila Dananjaya who will once again have to take the responsibility to keep the batsmen quiet and also take wickets and Hathurusingha will be aware of the counter-attack policy taken by the Tigers against the spinners on Saturday.

Pacer Thisara Perera will also play a big role with both bat and ball while Kusal Mendis, who struck two fifties in three games so far, can prove to be vital alongside Kusal Perera who also had  a good outing against the Tigers, scoring 74 runs during Sri Lanka's five-wicket defeat.

The good news is that there is no rain forecast today, but if the game is washed out Sri Lanka will go through to the final by virtue of a superior net run rate.

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