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Tigers eager for T20 turnaround

Atif Azam . Chittagong

Bangladesh opener Tamim Iqbal (L) makes a gesture to coach Shane Jurgensen during a training session at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong on Tuesday. — New Age photo  Bangladesh opener Tamim Iqbal (L) makes a gesture to coach Shane Jurgensen during a training session at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong on Tuesday. — New Age photo

Bangladesh will be keen to make a positive impact in the upcoming two-match Twenty20 series against Sri Lanka, which they see as a dress rehearsal for next month’s ICC World Twenty20.
The first match of the series is scheduled to start at 5:00 PM today at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, which will be hosting its first Twenty20 International.
With the atmosphere around the team in question after the sudden resignation of Tamim Iqbal from the vice-captain’s position following Mashrafee bin Murtaza’s appointment as captain, the latter will be tasked with trying to coax a unified effort from the Tigers.
This will be Mashrafee’s first match as Bangladesh captain since the first ODI against New Zealand in October 2010, when an ankle injury forced him to miss the rest of the series and opened the door for Sakib al Hasan to retain the captaincy after a 4-0 series victory.
The distance between Sri Lanka at number one and Bangladesh at number ten in the ICC Twenty20 rankings suggests a gulf in talent between the sides, but the Tigers will be looking to capitalize on the momentum they gathered in the last Test.
After their crushing defeat in the first Test, Bangladesh came back strongly in the second Test at this venue to earn a morale-raising draw. However, the result came with a price, as skipper Mushfiqur Rahim would pick up an injury that would keep him out of the Twenty20 series.
Mushfiq injured the little finger on his left hand during the first day of the match and was diagnosed with a fracture, prompting team management to give him a break ahead of some more important matches.
The team may also be without Tamim, who is still recovering from the neck strain that has kept him out of training. His availability for the first Twenty20 will be a last-minute decision based on his injury status.
‘Unfortunately because of the injuries some players can’t play,’ Mashrafee said at the official pre-match press conference.
‘But there are some replacements who have done well in the T20 tournaments played at home.’
Arafat Sunny, Mohammad Mithun and Sabbir Rahman are all set to step into the side for the first time.
Bangladesh has played and lost two Twenty20s against Sri Lanka, but Mashrafee was keen to play up his side’s chances, noting that Bangladesh
had struggled early on to adjust to ODI cricket but had since performed much better in the format.
‘In one-day cricket there was a time when we couldn’t finish matches and now we play very well and can finish.’
‘[In] T20 we are going through such a phase. Before the [World Twenty20], this series will be a good practice for us, and we can make full use of it to come out of this phase.’
‘T20 is such a game that those who play well on the field have more chances of winning. If we can put on our best tomorrow then we can play a good match.’
Sri Lanka will have much to play for themselves, as their number one spot in the ICC T20 rankings will be on the line in this series.
According to an ICC press release issued on Tuesday, Sri Lanka enter the series on 129 points, but only eight points separate the top four sides, with India (123 points), South Africa (123 points) and Pakistan (121 points) hot on the heels of the top-ranked side.
If Sri Lanka lose both matches in the series they will drop nine points, falling three places to the number four spot.

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