Preview: Can Bangladesh return happy faces?
The long-awaited Sri Lanka vs Bangladesh Test series kicks off tomorrow at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, Kandy.
The series, which is a part of World Test Championship, was delayed on two occasions in 2020. Finally the boards had come to agreement and reduced one match from the tour, making it it to two Tests.
Bangladesh have had history with Sri Lanka. They beat the Lankans at P Sara Oval in Colombo in their landmark 100th Test match in 2017. That is Bangladesh’s only Test win in the country, while they first drew in 2013.
Since Bangladesh’s return to international cricket, they have lost eight consecutive international matches – two Tests against West Indies at home, and three ODIs and as many T20Is against New Zealand (away).
The batsmen will need to step in the first Test. Tamim Iqbal, Saif Hassan, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Mushfiqur Rahim and Liton Das scored half-centuries in the intra-squad warm-up match.
Mominul Haque’s form is a worry for the tourists. He made a duck in that game before coming in again. His NCL (National Cricket League) scores for Chattogram – 6, 13, 11 and 13 – will certainly give Tigers a headache as Bangladesh are without Shakib Al Hasan, who is playing the IPL.
Mominul will also feel the pressure of proving himself overseas, where he averages below 25 with no hundred.
Saif Hassan could be back in the Test XI following his NCL stint where he made a hundred and a fifty. He also had a good series as a captain against Ireland Wolves for Bangladesh Emerging.
Spinners Mehidy Hasan Miraz, the all-rounder, and Taijul Islam will need to maintain line-and-length on Pallekele wicket.
On Pallekele’s green wicket, Abu Jayed Rahi has to play the role of leader of Bangladesh’s bowling attack. He was impressive in the second Test against West Indies. Taskin Ahmed and Ebadat Hossain will be under the scanner to not lose the line-and-length and bowl loose.
Shoriful Islam, the U-19 World Cup winning left-arm seamer, is one of two uncapped players in Bangladesh squad. The teen may require to wait bit more for his first Test.
As far as Sri Lanka are concerned, they will hope on Oshada Fernando and Pathum Nissanka who both performed in the Caribbean, where they drew 0-0.
With Lasith Embuldeniya out, Wanindu Hasaranga and Dhananjaya de Silva will spin the web. Suranga Lakmal will lead the three-man pace attack.
Bangladesh: Tamim Iqbal, Saif Hassan, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Mominul Haque (captain), Mushfiqur Rahim, Liton Das (wk), Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Taijul Islam, Taskin Ahmed, Ebadat Hossain, Abu Jayed Rahi.
Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne (captain), Lahiru Thirimanne, Oshada Fernando/Pathum Nissanka, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Wanindu Hasaranga, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Kumara, Vishwa Fernando.