Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are two of the five South Asian Countries which are not fancied like India and Pakistan for the semifinals. Yet both appear dark horses and may surprise the favorites. Both are balanced and are assemblies of brilliant youngsters and experienced veterans.
The Indian wickets and condition will also favor them. Both have ardent fan followers who keep all entertained with music and dances gathering in masses at the stadium. Cricket is the second religion for these two nations.
Sri Lanka won the Cup in 1996 beating Australia by 7 wickets at Lahore Pakistan. It also reached the final in 2007 losing to Australia in the final. True it does not have players like Jayasuriya, Ranatunga, De Silva but what they have are very talented youngsters. Recently they reached the final of Asia cup ahead of Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. Bangladesh on the other hand surprised many in its first appearance in 1999 when they upset very strong Pakistan. In 2007 it shocked strong India and won against South Africa. In 2015 it sent England back home on way to the quarter final. Between 2015-2019 it won bilateral ODI series against Pakistan, India, and South Africa. On their day Bangladesh can win ODI match against any team.
Bangladesh: Shakib Al Hasan (Captain), Nazmul Hasan Shanto, Litton Kumar Das, Tanzid Hasan Tamim, Towhid Hridoy, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah Riyad, Mehedy Hasan Miraj, Taskin Ahmed, Shoriful Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Nasum Ahmed, Shekh Mahedi Hasan, Hasan Mahmood and Tanjim Hasan Shakib.
It can be seen from above that the team still retains three of the five icon players of Bangladesh who emerging almost at the same time in 2007 brought Bangladesh many laurels in cricket and made Bangladesh bigger and brighter in the world map. Cricketer cum politician Mashrafe bin Murtaza is no longer active in international cricket. Former captain iconic opening batsman Tamim Iqbal has been omitted from the squad at the last minute in the excuse of fitness. The team is led by ICC top all rounder Shakib Al Hasan. Very experienced and quality batsmen Mushfiqur Rahim (Mr Dependable) and Mahmudullah Riad (silent killer) make the batting deeper and stronger.
The team has some quality batsmen like Litton Kumar Das and Nazmul Hossain Shanto. Mehedi Hasan Miraj is a quality all-rounder. Tanzid Hasan Tamim and Towhid Hridoy are quality young batsmen. The team off late has found a team of 5 quality pace bowlers Taskin Ahmed, Shoriful Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Hasan Mahmood and rookie Tanjim Hasan Shakib. Two world class spinners Shakib and Mehedy Hasan Miraj will lead their spin attack. Nasum Ahmed and Shekh Mahedi are there as competent back. This team may not have won many in the recent past but has competence to rock any team on their day.
Sri Lanka: Dasun Shanaka (Captain), Kushal Mendis, Pithun Nishanka, Kusal Janith, Dimuth Karunaratne, Charith Asalanka , Dhananjaya di Silva, Sadeera Samrawickrama, Dinuth Wellalage, Kasun Rajitha, Maheesha Pathirana, Lahiru Kumara , Wanindu Hasaranga , Maheesh Theeksana and Dishan Madhushanka
Sri Lanka may not have flamboyant blasters in top order. But Pithun Nishanka, Kushal Perera and Kusal Mendis in the top give steady start. Sadeera Samrawickrama, Charitha Asalanka and Dhananjaya di Silva give great strength of the middle order. Hasaranga and Wellalage are useful all-rounders. Though got crashed against India in the final of Asia cup this batting line up can regularly score 280-300 runs against any opposition in India. If that happens Lankans have balanced all round of quality pace featuring Lahiru Kumara, Matheesha Pathirana and spin trio Hasaranga, Wellalage and Dhananjay may successfully defend.
Sri Lanka or Bangladesh may not look like quality team to reach semifinals. But as dark horse both can surprise the favorites.
BDST: 1536 HRS, SEP 30, 2023