Sri Lanka v Bangladesh: Back Sri Lankan spin to win in Sharjah

Kusal Perera
Kusal Perera returned to form in Sri Lanka's win over the Netherlands

Two group qualifiers meet on Sunday and Matt Harris expects Sri Lanka's slow bowlers to have the edge over inconsistent Bangladesh.

"While spin is their key weapon, this is a better balanced attack than Sri Lankan sides of old."

Sri Lanka v Bangladesh
Sunday October 24th: 11:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket

Balanced Sri Lanka breeze through group stage

With a 100% record in the group stages, Sri Lanka might have expected to be playing one of the associate nations on Sunday but the side looks to have the strength to make an impression in the Super 12s. While spin is their key weapon, this is a better balanced attack than Sri Lankan sides of old with some extra pace and bounce provided by Lahiru Kumara in particular.

On the slow wickets in the UAE, those spinners will be pivotal moving forward and Maheesh Theekshana has been outstanding with eight wickets in three matches.

We'll know more about Sri Lanka's chances when their batters are given a tougher test. To date, they've chased down totals of 106 and 44, either side of posting 171/7 against Ireland.

Bangladesh through after Scotland upset

While defeat to an associate team is embarrassing, Bangladesh aren't the first full ICC nation to go down to a strong Scottish team in limited overs cricket. That opening defeat may have woken up the sleeping Tigers, but an early wobble in their follow up win over Oman was another concern.

Like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh have proved that there is room for seamers in these conditions with Mustafizur Rahman claiming best figures in that Oman victory.

They were fully expected to beat Oman and Papua New Guinea, and Bangladesh were far more convincing in that final group game. Quality spin and good depth in the batting line up has impressed as the tournament has developed.

Sharjah plays host

The Sharjah Cricket Stadium is the venue for Sunday's match and that may suit Sri Lanka who demolished the Netherlands here on Friday. The Dutch total of 44, together with Ireland's contribution of 125 earlier in the day, suggests we shouldn't read too much into the average first innings score of 84.

When the second phase of the IPL was played on these Sharjah surfaces, the games were relatively low scoring and tended to favour the chasing side. Totals will improve in the Super 12 stage but it's another day for winning the toss and inserting.

Sri Lanka edge tight match market

There's little to split the sides in the match betting with Sri Lanka just ahead at 1.9420/21 and Bangladesh behind at 2.021/1. Pointers here include that opening defeat to Scotland and, while there is that depth to Bangladesh's batting, the top order are under a little more pressure.

He's a world class all rounder but Shakib Al Hasan looks high at number three and that could be an indication of Bangladesh's issues right now. It's another game where I'd be more comfortable with backing the chasing side but, ahead of the toss, the form guide favours Sri Lanka.

Kusal Perera finds form

The one batsman to benefit from Sri Lanka's demolition of the Netherlands was Kusal Perera who made 33 from 24 balls. It had been a slow start to the tournament for the opener who followed up his 11 in the opening match with a first ball duck against Ireland.

I'm hoping that, with the pressure lifted in that modest run chase, Perera has found some form and momentum as he's my recommended bet in Sri Lanka's top batsman market. He is the favourite at 3.412/5 but that's a good price for a quality player who is rarely out of touch for too long.

Other options here include Pathun Nissanka at 4.57/2 and Avishka Fernando at 5.04/1.

Watch Mushfiqur in the death overs

I've picked two favourites so far: It's not an original approach to betting but those were my thoughts ahead of the markets opening and one thing I have learned is that you should never change your mind.

For some better odds, I'd suggest taking a look at Mushfiqur Rahim in Bangladesh's top batsman market. He's given me a number of profits in all forms of the game yet his price never seems to shorten. Mushfiqur has already delivered one return in this tournament and he looks generous at 6.05/1 for a repeat.

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