A New Rivalry

While not as famous as India-Pakistan, Sri Lanka vs. Bangladesh cricket rivalry is gaining momentum that promises thrilling encounters and is a testament to the evolving cricket landscape in the subcontinent.

By Muhammad Omar Iftikhar | October 2023

The world of cricket is well aware of the India-Pakistan cricket rivalry. It has been echoing far and wide during the tournaments organised by the International Cricket Council (ICC), including the Cricket World Cup, Champions Trophy, World Twenty20, and the Asian Cricket Council’s Asia Cup. However, another cricket rivalry is being formed in the subcontinent. It may not be as captivating as India-Pakistan, but it has the potential to become one. Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have been engaged in battles of sorts on and off the fields. Sri Lanka has been playing cricket for a longer duration as compared to Bangladesh. Sri Lanka was granted Test status in 1982, while Bangladesh was given this status in 2000.

By 1996, Sri Lanka became a strong team that eventually won the 1996 ICC Cricket World Cup. Regarding their on-field rivalry, Bangladesh won its first Test match against Sri Lanka in 2017, which was a monumental victory worth noting. However, six years earlier, Bangladesh achieved a significant win - not on the ground - by becoming one of the three organizers of the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup. The other two hosts were India and Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lanka vs. Bangladesh enmity holds significance for the teams involved and Asian cricket as a whole. It represents the increasing competitiveness and depth of talent in the subcontinent, which is crucial to developing sports in the region. When looking at their history, Sri Lanka visited Bangladesh to play a 3-day match in the 1984-85 season. The match was drawn by Bangladesh, making it a sort of an upset win during that time. For Sri Lanka, these encounters against Bangladesh over the years offer a prospect to proclaim their dominance and maintain their reputation as a cricketing dynamo in Asia. On the other hand, Bangladesh views these matches as a chance to prove their performance and mettle, enhance their cricketing bequest, and establish themselves as challenging opponents.

The rivalry also has a profound impact on cricket fans in both countries. Matches between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are highly anticipated, and the passion and enthusiasm of the fans add to the atmosphere surrounding these games. Cricket can unite and ignite emotions, and this rivalry exemplifies that sentiment. Interestingly, Sri Lanka has a 41-9 head-to-head lead over Bangladesh in ODIs. On home ground, Sri Lanka enjoys a 19-2 lead over Bangladesh.

Bangladesh have not defeated Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka since April 2017. This transpired during Bangladesh’s tour of Sri Lanka in 2017. During the second T20I, Bangladesh won its match by 45 runs. Batting first, Bangladesh scored 176/9 while Sri Lanka were all-out on 131 in 18 overs. Bangladesh did prove its mettle during the Nidahas Trophy 2018, hosted in Sri Lanka and played between the hosts, Bangladesh and India. It was Bangladesh that eliminated Sri Lanka from the race to the finals. Although Bangladesh lost the final to India, it exhibited rising dominance in cricket. During the 2017/19 tour of Sri Lanka to Bangladesh, a tri-series was organized with Zimbabwe as the third player. During the third match of the series, Bangladesh scored 320/7. Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan, and Mushfiqur Rahim scored half-centuries for Bangladesh. Sri Lanka, in reply, managed to score only 157 (All Out) in 32.2 overs, with Thisara Perera scoring the highest number of runs (29).

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