Mehedi Hasan could make his T20I debut in this match © AFP
Mehedi Hasan could make his T20I debut in this match © AFP

After a hard-fought One-Day International (ODI) series, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh turn their attention to the two-match T20 International (T20I) series, beginning with the first match. Both teams have made some changes to their T20I squad. Man of the series in ODIs Kusal Mendis has been axed from the T20I squad as the chairman of selectors Sanath Jayasuriya believes the young batsman must not be burdened with too much cricket. Also missing from the line-up are Angelo Mathews (injury), Sachith Pathirana and Dinesh Chandimal. However, after a triumphant return to international cricket, former captain Lasith Malinga retains his place in the squad. In Mathews’ absence, Upul Tharanga will continue to lead the team in the shortest format as well. Full Cricket Scorecard: Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka 1st T20I at Colombo (RPS)

As far as Bangladesh are concerned, they have included 20-year-old batsman Mohammad Saifuddin – the only new addition to the ODI squad. However, Rubel Hossain and Shuvagata Hom have flown back home. They did not play a single game in the ODI series and have not been picked in the T20I squad as well. Bangladesh have had an excellent tour of Sri Lanka so far. They won their first ever Test on Sri Lankan soil, leveling the series 1-1. They followed it up with an impressive show in the ODI series as well. After going 1-0 up in the series, they had to share the series after Sri Lanka won the third match after the second one was washed out. Can Bangladesh start off the T20I series on a positive note? Let us take a look at the XI both teams are likely to field during the first T20I at Colombo. READ: Bangladesh announce squad for T20I series vs Sri Lanka

Top order: It is highly unlikely that Bangladesh will mess with their top 3 batsmen. Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar should ideally be entrusted to open the innings again, with the dangerous Sabbir Rahman coming in at No. 3. Bangladesh also have the option of opening with Imrul Kayes, if needed. But with just 67 runs in 11 T20I outings, Kayes will have to sit out unless one of the regular openers is injured.

Sri Lanka too will go in with the same openers as they did in the ODI series. Skipper Tharanga will open the innings with Danushka Gunathilaka. Both of them got off to a good start in the third ODI, but failed to make it count. Wicketeeper Kusal Perera is likely to come in at No. 3 in the absence of Mendis.

Middle order: Bangladesh have an excellent middle order too. Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan are the two pillars for Bangladesh and their contribution will be extremely crucial. Shakib, who is one of the best all-rounders in the world, will have an opportunity to show his worth with the ball as well. It could very well turn out to be Shakib who decides the fate of the match, eventually. Bangladesh will however be torn whether to play both Mahmudullah and Mossaddek Hossain in this match. READ: SL axe Mendis from T20I squad against Bangladesh; Perera, Jayasuriya included

They have the option of replacing one of them with Mohammad Saifuddin, who is a good fast bowling all-rounder. Mahmudullah has not been in rhythm with the bat and as a result could be replaced in this game. It could be Mossaddek and Saifuddin, who start this match.

In the absence of Chandimal, we might see Asela Gunaratne promoted to No. 4. Gunaratne batted in that position on a couple of occasions in Australia, finishing with scores of 52 not out and 4.  Experienced Chamara Kapugedara is a good candidate to come in next, followed by all-rounder Milinda Siriwardana, followed by yet another all-rounder – the dangerous Thisara Perera, who made an excellent return to the team by smashing a couple of fifties in the recently concluded ODI series, but could not pick up a wicket. However, he still remains one of Sri Lanka’s main players. READ: Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka 1st T20I at Colombo: Preview

Bowlers: Starting with the Sri Lankan bowlers, Malinga should be included in the XI after he did a good job in Australia. Partnering him willbe Nuwan Kulasekara. In the spin department, Sri Lanka have leg-spinner Seekuge Prasanna and Chinaman bowler Lakshan Sandakan, who can give the batsmen a run for their money.

Bangladesh on the other hand have an excellent bowling line-up themselves. Mashrafe Mortaza and Mustafizur Rahman more or less pick themselves. With Taskin Ahmed bowling so well, it would be foolish to exclude him from the XI. Off-spinner Mehedi Hasan could be in line to make his T20I debut. Mehedi had a decent ODI series, where he picked 4 wickets in three matches at an economy rate of 4.73.

Sri Lanka likely XI: Danushka Gunathalika, Upul Tharanga (c), Kusal Perera (wk), Asela Gunaratne, Chamara Kapugedara, Milinda Siriwardana, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Seekkuge Prasanna, Lakshan Sandakan

Bangladesh likely XI: Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Sabbir Rahman, Mushfiqur Rahman (wk), Shakib Al Hasan, Mosaddek Hossain, Mahmudulah/Mohammad Saifuddin, Mashrafe Mortaza (c), Mehedi Hasan, Taskin Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman