First Test preview: Sri Lanka v Bangladesh
A wounded Sri Lanka welcome the scrappy Tigers of Bangladesh for a series of immense importance for the two ‘smaller’ Asian cricket nations.
Bangladesh have been steadily building a reputation as a growing force in Test cricket with creditable performances against England, New Zealand and India leaving Sri Lanka looking over their shoulders.
Sri Lanka comprehensively beat Australia at home last year but that win was sandwiched by demoralising performances in England and South Africa and they have to take on Bangladesh without their regular skipper and middle-order stalwart Angelo Mathews.
Dinesh Chandimal has to step up with the willow after a disappointing series in South Africa and a big hundred in the build up to the first Test suggests he might do just that.
As they prepare to face up to a team more capable of handling turn Sri Lanka will be weighing up the balance of their team, it seems unlikely that they will play three frontline spinners meaning Lakshan Sandakan may miss out in an attack spearheaded by stand in skipper Rangana Herath.
Dilruwan Perera is considered to be ahead of the chinaman bowler in the pecking order with the attack likely to be rounded out by stocky paceman Lahiru Kumara and senior paceman Suranga Lakmal.
Allrounder Dhananjaya de Silva will need to put in a shift with the ball as well to allow Sri Lanka to beef up their batting.
Bangladesh will be looking for a more complete performance after several months of promising showings and flashes of brilliance.
They have batsmen capable of racking up big scores in Mominul Haque, Mahmudullah, Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib-al-Hasan but need to fire on all cylinders.
The Tigers not so secret weapon Mustafizur Rahim could pose a few problems for Sri Lanka who struggled against the left-arm pace bowling of Mitchell Starc in their last home series.
Taijul Islam and Mehedi Hasan have established themselves as Bangladesh’s spin pairing and as young players could develop into a fearsome combination.
Kusal Mendis is outrageously talented and a return to the subcontinent should see him pile on the runs once again and with Mathews out those will be vital.
Herath is without peer in Sri Lanka and will pose more than a few questions to the Bangladesh batsmen.
Mushfiqur will no doubt look to lead from the front with the willow having been relieved of the keeping duties for this series.
It may seem strange to nominate a pace bowler as the Tiger’s key man but the element of surprise and the incredible talent of Mustafizur could see him play a big role.
Sri Lanka: Rangana Herath (c), Dinesh Chandimal, Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Nuwan Pradeep, Asela Gunaratne, Dimuth Karunaratne, Lahiru Kumara, Suranga Lakmal, Kusal Mendis, Dilruwan Perera, Malinda Pushpakumara, Lakshan Sandakan, Vikum Sanjaya, Upul Tharanga.
Bangladesh: Bangladesh Squad: Mushfiqur Rahim (Captain), Tamim Iqbal (Vice Captain), Liton Das, Soumya Sarkar, Mominul Haque, Shakib Al Hasan, Mahmudullah, Sabbir Rahman, Mustafizur Rahman, Taijul Islam, Mehedi Hasan Miraz, Taskin Ahmed, Mosaddek Hossain, Kamrul Islam Rabbi, Subashis Roy, Rubel Hossain
Morning session: 10:00-12:00 (04:30-06:30 GMT)
Afternoon session: 12:40-14:40 (07:10-09:10 GMT)
Evening session: 15:00-17:00 (09:30-11:30 GMT)
Umpires: Aleem Dar and Marais Erasmus
TV Umpire: Sundaram Ravi
Match Referee: Andy Pycroft
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