The Asia Cup 2018 is all set to kick off on September 15 (Saturday) in Dubai with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh fighting it out in the first match of the much-awaited competition at Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). And to talk thoroughly about the match preview, both teams have exceptional players in their ranks. They will look to start off their campaign on a winning note.

Bangladesh is ranked higher than Sri Lanka in the Latest ODI Rankings. However, the Lankans will be confident of putting up an animated show in the tournament. Head coach Chandika Hathurusingha recently said that the team has all the attributes to beat any team in the tourney

The conditions in the UAE might suit the batsmen. The pitches are expected to be batting friendly tracks, and the bowlers will have a tough time there.

The Bangladesh Tigers will be hopeful of putting up an all-round performance tomorrow. Bangladesh has played some impressive cricket in the recent past.

However, at times they have faltered against top class oppositions. Despite having several big names in the squad, Bangladesh has never managed to put up consistent performances and win matches.

However, they have had the better of Sri Lanka in the recent past which will keep them in perfect stead ahead of the tournament opener.

Meanwhile coming to Sri Lanka, they too have some good players in their ranks. However, after the retirement of some of the stalwarts of the game, Sri Lanka’s performance has dipped quite considerably.

Despite their confidence in their abilities, it will be difficult to ask for the Islanders to win the tournament or even win essential junctures of the tournament. Afghanistan also can beat any top team, especially in ODI cricket.

Key players:

Shakib Al Hasan:

Bangladesh, Sri Lanka
Shakib Al Hasan will be a massive player for Bangladesh in tomorrow’s match. (Image Courtesy: Getty Images)

There is no doubt about the fact that the presence of Shakib Al Hasan in the Bangladesh team will surely bolster their confidence. He had recently made a startling revelation that he was only 30 per cent fit.

However, he has still been kept in the team. His all-round abilities will be a huge boost for Bangladesh. However, if he is not entirely fit, it won’t be a sensible option to include him in the playing XI. There is no doubt about the fact that Shakib Al Hasan is one of the finest ever all-rounders in the world.

Angelo Mathews:

Angelo Mathews has been made the captain of the Sri Lankan ODI team yet again. He is a brilliant all-round cricketer and has the ability to change the complexion of the game with both his bowling and batting skills.

The prominent professional has a sensational cricketing sense. Hence it was ideal for Sri Lanka to elect him as the skipper of the national team again.

Mathews will definitely be a player to watch out for in the upcoming matches.

Mustafizur Rahman:

The left-arm pacer Mustafizur Rahman started off his career in a sensational manner. However, he hasn’t managed to be consistent as his career has progressed.

Fondly known as Fizz, Rahman is marred by multiple injuries. It will be a huge tournament for Bangladesh and Mustafizur as Bangladesh hopes to lift their maiden Asia Cup title.

Rahman is a wily customer. The cutter specialist executes the off cutters and the leg cutters to perfection.

Player Battles – Asia Cup 2018:

Lasith Malinga vs Tamim Iqbal:

Lasith Malinga will be playing international cricket after a year. (Image Courtesy: Getty Images)

Lasith Malinga has been brought back to the Sri Lankan squad which is a proof that the veteran cricketers is still in the scheme of things for the World Cup 2019.

Malinga is a world-class bowler and is likely to be a part of the playing XI in the first match.

On the other hand, Iqbal will be a vital player for Bangladesh. The battle of Iqbal and Malinga will be a key player battle in the match. Malinga will definitely look to return to international cricket with the prized wicket of  Iqbal.

Kusal Mendis vs Rubel Hossain:

Kusal Mendis is one of the finest young batsmen of the Sri Lankan team. He has played some great knocks in his brief career so far across format.

However, he hasn’t been consistent enough which has not allowed him to retain his place in the Sri Lankan team for a long time.

But, if he gets going, Mendis is a terrific batsman. On the other hand, Rubel Hossain is also one of the finest bowlers of the Bangladesh team. The player battle between Mendis and Rubel will be the one to watch out for.

Where to watch:

Star Sports Network will telecast the games. It viewers will also witness it on Hotstar.

Bangladesh Squad:

Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Mashrafe Mortaza(c), Mohammad Mithun, Liton Das, Mushfiqur Rahim, Ariful Haque, Mahmudullah, Mosaddek Hossain, Mehidy Hasan, Nazmul Islam, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Abu Hider Rony, Nazmul Hossain Shanto, and Mominul Haque.

Sri Lanka squad:

Angelo Mathews(c), Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Upul Tharanga, Thisara Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Akila Dananjaya, Dilruwan Perera, Amila Aponso, Kasun Rajitha, Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera, Lasith Malinga, Niroshan Dickwella, and Shehan Jayasuriya.

Pitch conditions:

The conditions in UAE will be more of a batting friendly. With the increase of shortest formats of the game, the battle between ball and bat often went in favour of the batters. Hence in humid conditions, the pitch often assist batters.

Match Prediction:

Asia Cup 2018, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, UAE
Sri Lanka starts their Asia Cup campaign against Bangladesh tomorrow. (Image Courtesy: Getty Images)

Both teams are equal in the abilities and their performances in the recent past. But I feel Bangladesh will start as the favourites given their good run of form against Sri Lanka in the recent past.

Bangladesh has performed quite brilliantly, and according to the match preview will be the favourites to win Saturday’s (September 16) curtain raiser of the Asia Cup 2018  against Sri Lanka in Dubai.