Bangladesh are expected to surprise Sri Lanka in the World Cup match © Getty Images
Bangladesh are expected to surprise Sri Lanka in the World Cup match © Getty Images

Sri Lanka will take on Bangladesh in the 18th match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 at Melbourne on Thursday. Sri Lanka were beaten comprehensively by New Zealand in what was the opening match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, and were in deep trouble against Afghanistan before managing to pull off the win. On the other hand, Bangladesh beat Afghanistan easily before earning a couple of free points thanks to a wash-out against Australia. SCORECARD: Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 Pool A Match 18 at Melbourne

Sri Lanka have not had a good time Down Under, losing the Test series against New Zealand in December-January and then going on to lose the One-Day International (ODI) series as well. Their top order remains overly dependent on Kumar Sangakkara — who has not done much in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 so far — with Mahela Jayawardene being the only man who has looked in control of his game. ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: SCHEDULE & MATCH DETAILS

Meanwhile, Bangladesh have reason to feel optimistic. Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, and Mashrafe Mortaza are experienced campaigners, while the impressive young pacer Taskin Ahmed has looked better with every match. ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: Complete Coverage

Bangladesh have a poor record in World Cup cricket, but this is arguably the strongest side they have had for a long time. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, remain overly reliant on the seniors. While Lasith Malinga’s return will undeniably make them a more potent side, the fact that Malinga is far from 100 per cent was obvious in the first match. Malinga looked visibly bulkier and was nowhere near as accurate as usual. He bowled better against Afghanistan, but he is not yet at his best. ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: POINTS TABLE

Angelo Mathews has been something of a surprise package for Sri Lanka. The skipper has bowled well, and looks like their best option with the new ball at present. Nuwan Kulasekara failed to make an impact in the first match, and was subsequently dropped in favour of Thisara Perera — a move that paid rich dividends for Sri Lanka given that his innings was what won them the match against Afghanistan.

Overall, Sri Lanka remain favourites for the match, but not by much. Bangladesh have every chance of overcoming their Asian neighbours, and will be eyeing a spot in the quarter-finals if they can do so. An engaging contest is on the cards at the MCG.

Squads:

Bangladesh: Mashrafe Mortaza (c), Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Shakib Al Hasan, Taijul Islam, Tamim Iqbal, Taskin Ahmed, Anamul Haque, Arafat Sunny, Mahmudullah, Mominul Haque, Nasir Hossain, Rubel Hossain, Sabbir Rahman, Soumya Sarkar.

Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews (c), Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Lasith Malinga, Tillekaratne Dilshan, Rangana Herath, Mahela Jayawardene, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dushmantha Chameera, Dinesh Chandimal, Dimuth Karunaratne, Nuwan Kulasekara, Suranga Lakmal, Schithra Senanayake, Thisara Perera.

Time: 3:30 GMT | 9:00 IST

(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic. You can follow him on Twitter @ShiamakUnwalla)