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T20 World Cup : Bangladesh to face familiar foe Sri Lanka aiming for a fresh start

Bangladesh is set to kick off their T20 World Cup journey with a match against familiar rivals Sri Lanka on Saturday morning.

The team is looking to turn the page on recent struggles, with captain Najmul Hossain Shanto emphasising a focus on a strong start.

“We are not thinking too much,” Shanto said during a pre-match media interaction in Dallas. “It is good for us to stay in the present instead of looking too far. We have a good preparation, and now we are hoping to execute our plans,” reports UNB.

Sri Lanka, meanwhile, is facing a crucial match after losing their opening game to South Africa in New York. They were bowled out for a paltry 77 runs on a challenging pitch in the newly-constructed stadium. South Africa, in response, secured a victory in the 17th over.

While Bangladesh aims to move past their recent series defeat to the USA, Sri Lanka is determined to secure a victory to keep their World Cup hopes alive.

Sri Lanka emerged victorious in the last T20 series between the two nations, played in Bangladesh, a fact that could bolster their confidence going into the Dallas match.

Dallas has emerged as a major hub for cricket in the USA in recent years. It hosted the inaugural Major League Cricket, and the USA team is currently proving its mettle on the world stage at the same venue, winning two consecutive matches in the World Cup, including victories against Canada and Pakistan, to advance to the next phase.

One of Bangladesh or Sri Lanka will gain momentum in Dallas, with the winner taking a step forward in their World Cup journey.

The last series saw Sri Lankan batters Kusal Mendis and Nuwan Thusara stand out, with Thusara registering a memorable hat-trick that Bangladeshi fans will not soon forget.

The Bangladesh captain acknowledged the importance of the upcoming match. “This match is going to be a challenging one for both the teams,” Shanto said. “But we are not thinking too much. It is good for us to stay in the present instead of looking too far.”

Despite struggles in recent matches, including a disappointing home series against Zimbabwe and a lackluster performance against the USA, and India in warm-up matches, Bangladesh is hoping for a fresh start.

“What happened in the past is now past,” Shanto emphasised. “It’s true that our batters have been failing to do well in recent times. But tomorrow is a different day, and a different match. Everyone tried to prepare well. Now the onus of finishing the match will be vested to someone who gets a good start and sets well in the middle. We are ready to take the field in the World Cup.”

Sri Lanka, meanwhile, is confident heading into the match, drawing strength from their recent success against Bangladesh. Thilina Kandambi, Sri Lanka’s batting coach, echoed this sentiment during the pre-match press conference. A loss against Bangladesh would signify the end of the World Cup for Sri Lanka.

“Not so really because I think we have played good cricket against Bangladesh in the recent past,” Kandambi said, dismissing the idea of an early exit if they lose. “So, we have that confidence and momentum going through this game.”