First Test preview: Sri Lanka v Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Under new captain Angelo Mathews, minus middle-order stalwarts Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera, and hot on the heels of an awkward contract dispute, Sri Lanka tackle a Bangladesh unit lined with similar off-field interference.

Under new captain Angelo Mathews, minus middle-order stalwarts Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera, and hot on the heels of an awkward contract dispute, Sri Lanka tackle a Bangladesh unit lined with similar off-field interference.

Recently disallowed to play in the Indian Premier League during international series and now contractually incentivesed to draw, if not win, Test matches – Bangladesh are coming to terms with a lot, including fragility among the coaching staff.

Shane Jurgensen holds the role Richard Pybus didn't want for long, and will do well to avoid the meddling of chief selector of Akram Khan his predecessor would not stand for. The makeup of their XI, based on a sound enough showing against the Sri Lanka Development Emerging Team, is largely finalised – and Mohammad Ashraful and Mominul Haque will surely play in Galle.

Sri Lanka's 11-fold combination, however, is not as settled. Samarweera's omission – and subsequent retirement – and Jayawardene's injury has left a gaping hole in the batting order. A side eager to look to the future, which will eventually exclude Kumar Sangakkara too, is presented with relatively lowly opposition to blood a new breed.

The need for a wicketkeeper necessitates the selection of Dinesh Chandimal, and alongside Lahiru Thirimanne and Kithuruwan Vithanagem, must step up in the absence of the regular candidates. Opportunity knocks for Vithanagem in particular, who fetched a big ton in last week's tour fixture.

Sri Lanka screamed to three consecutive innings-plus victories at home in 2007, and fetched further big wins in 2008 and 2009. Three years later, similar proportions are on the cards. A Tigers unit who have waxed lyrical about a dearth of Test match cricket, though, will know this is not the opposition of yesteryear – rather one rife with change and ripe enough to be upstaged in their own backyard.

<b>Key Men</b><br>Samaraweera and Jayawardene's exit and Sangakkara's battle with a finger injury really leaves a Sri Lankan order in need of one of its newer school to oblige. <b>Lahiru Thirimanne</b>, no longer a limited-overs specialist, was reasonably successful in Australia – and will want more of the same.

Injury to Shakib Al Hasan has brought Bangladesh a precarious need for an all-rounder. While <b>Mohammad Ashraful</b> can't fulfill one half of the requirement, his latest in a slew of chances with the bat must be justified.

<b>Last Five Head-To-Head Results</b><br>2009: Second Test: Sri Lanka won by 465 runs in Chittagong<br>2008: First Test: Sri Lanka won by 107 runs in Dhaka<br>2007: Third Test: Sri Lanka won by an innings and 193 runs in Kandy<br>2007: Second Test: Sri Lanka won by an innings and 90 runs in Colombo<br>2007: First Test: Sri Lanka won by an innings and 234 runs in Colombo

<b>Prediction</b><br>Online betting firm <a href='http://www.skybet.com/cricket' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>Sky Bet</b></a> have Sri Lanka at 4/11 and Bangladesh at 10/1 in the odds to win the first Test. Visit Sky Bet for the latest cricket <a href='http://www.skybet.com/cricket' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>betting</b></a>.

More <a href='http://https://twitter.com/bet365' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>cricket bets here.</b></a>

<b>Probable Teams</b><br><i>Sri Lanka:</i> Tillakaratne Dilshan, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kumar Sangakkara, Kithuruwan Vithanagem, Dinesh Chandimal (wicketkeeper), Lahiru Thirimanne, Angelo Mathews (captain), Rangana Herath, Ajantha Mendis, Shaminda Eranga, Chanaka Welegedara.

<i>Bangladesh:</i> Jahurul Islam, Anamul Haque, Mohammad Ashraful, Mominul Haque, Mohammad Mahmudullah, Mushfiqur Rahim (captain, wicketkepeer), Nasir Hossain, Sohag Gazi, Abul Hasan, Rubel Hossain, Elias Sunny.

<b>Dates:</b> 8-13 March<br><b>Morning session:</b> 10:00-12:00 (04:30-06:30 GMT)<br><b>Afternoon session:</b> 12:40-14:40 (07:10-09:10 GMT)<br><b>Evening session:</b> 15:00-17:00 (09:30-11:30 GMT)

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