Sri Lanka, Bangladesh looking to overcome injury, modest form for Asian Cup win | Cricket News

Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will be keen to shake off their modest ODI form and key player injury spate to start their Asian Cup campaigns on Thursday. Sri Lanka, who won the 2022 Asian Cup with their T20 avatar, could only announce their squad for this edition on Tuesday, due to courtesy and COVID-19 infection among some players.

The lankers lost Wanindu Hasaranga, Dushmantha Chameera, Lahiru Kumara and Dilshan Madhushanka to various injuries, while Kusal Perera, who last played an ODI in 2021, is yet to fully recover from a COVID-19 infection.

But even before these setbacks, Sri Lanka's performance in ODIs this year was underperforming.

They started the year with a 3-0 loss to India and then lost 2-0 to New Zealand.

The Islanders managed to beat Afghanistan at home before putting on a good run at the ICC Qualifiers in Harare, but an inability to improve their game against top opponents will worry them.

They'll need runs from Pathum Nissanka (687 runs in 2023), Dimuth Karunaratne (481 runs) and Charith Asalanka (341 runs), their best batters so far this year, to challenge Bangladesh.

They also hope captain Dasun Shanaka, who hasn't shot all year except a hundred against India, will find his luck against Bangladesh.

On the bowling front, spinners Maheesh Theekshana (23 wickets from 10 games in 2023) and Pacer Kasun Rajitha (14 wickets) have to cover the absence of frontline bowlers.

The only consolation for Sri Lanka might be that Bangladesh was also in the same boat with them.

Bangladesh will be without the services of the injured Tamim Iqbal, pacesetter Ebadot Hossain and wicketkeeper batsman Litton Das, but that's just a small speck of the bigger picture.

That was ruled out for the entire Asian Cup on Wednesday as he failed to recover from the virus infection. Wicketkeeper batsman Anamul Haque Bijoy, 30, was named as Das' replacement.

Bangladesh, generally a strong home power, lost the ODI series to England and Afghanistan this year.

Victory over Ireland would not be enough to allay their worries ahead of the Asian Cup. However, they have individual performers in both batting and bowling.

Captain Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim and Najmul Shanto have surpassed 400 runs this year, while youngster Towhid Hridoy also surpassed 300 runs. But a good chunk of those runs came against Ireland.

Experienced Mustafizur Rahman, Shoriful Islam and Taskin Ahmed have all performed reasonably well on the bowling front this year but have failed to assert themselves against high-profile rivals such as England or India.

Individual worries aside, a win in Thursday's game is important for both Bangladesh and Sri Lanka as they face a difficult Afghanistan in their next Group B game.

Both teams are desperate to win as the net run rate equations could play a part as rain is forecast here.

The teams (from): Sri Lanka: Dasun Shanaka (Captain), Pathum Nissanaka, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Janith Perera, Kusal Mendis (vc), Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Maheesh Theekshana, Dunith Wellalage, Matheesha Pathirana, Kasun Rajitha, Dushan Hemantha, Binura Fernando, Pramod Madushan.

Bangladesh: Shakib Al Hasan (Captain), Najmul Hossain Shanto, Tawhid Hridoy, Mushfiqur Rahim, Afif Hossain Dhrubo, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Taskin Ahmed, Hasan Mahmud, Mustafizur Rahman, Shoriful Islam, Nasum Ahmed, Shak Mahedi Hasan, Naim Sheikh, Shamim Hossain, Tanzid Hasan Tamim, Tanzim Hasan Sakib, Anamul Haque Bijoy.

Game starts at 3:00 PM IST.

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