Second Test Preview: Sri Lanka v Bangladesh
Bangladesh will celebrate playing their 100th Test when they take on Sri Lanka at the P Sara Oval in Colombo and regardless of the result will have plenty of positives to reflect on.
The team has come a long way from being the whipping boys of world cricket and they now boast a number of international stars in their lineup.
Sri Lanka will be intent on raining on their parade though with the hosts clearly not in the mood to be generous to a team that are threatening to overtake them in the world cricket pecking order.
The islanders have struggled to come to terms with the loss of arguably their greatest ever pair of batsmen in the shape of Kumar Sangakkara of Mahela Jayawardene.
Sri Lanka have suffered from chronic instability within the team with players shifting batting positions from innings to innings and others being cycled in and out of the team without ever settling on a lineup.
They have proven to be more than capable at home though and appear to be closing in on something that resembles a settled XI with the top order anchored by veteran Upul Tharanga who has snapped his barren run of century-making in Test cricket and the exciting young talent of Kusal Mendis.
In Niroshan Dickwella they have an aggressive, innovative batsman and handy wicketkeeper but they would be eager to see senior man Dinesh Chandimal show more consistency.
The Lankans are without skipper Angelo Mathews for this series after he sustained an injury playing a heroic match-winning innings in the T20 series in South Africa.
Asela Gunaratne has found form with bat and ball and his allround strength affords the Sri Lankans the flexibility to play an extra seamer, allrounder or even an additional specialist batsman.
Rangana Herath leads the team in Mathews absence and leads the attack particularly as the match wears on.
Bangladesh welcome Imrul Kayes back into the fold with the opener set to rekindle his promising relationship with Tamim Iqbal at the top of the order.
Imrul’s return has led the Tiger’s to send allrounder Mahmudullah home with Soumya Sarkar deputizing at the top to great effect with a pair of half centuries in Galle, although he earned himself a spot in the comedy cricket hall of fame with his decision to review his dismissal in the second innings having been clean bowled by Gunaratne.
Bangladesh may hope for a more sporting wicket in Colombo to bring their spinners into the game a little more with Mehedi Hasan in particular capable of extracting big turn.
It seems likely though that Sri Lanka will offer up a similar track that will only deteriorate on day four or five making Bangladesh’s quest for a first ever Test win over Sri Lanka that much harder.
Mendis played a massive knock of 194 in the first innings of the first Test and is the stand out batsman in a Sri Lankan outfit struggling for form and consistency.
With the ball Herath remains Sri Lanka’s leader and will be especially vital if Bangladesh find themselves batting in the fourth innings.
Mushfiqur Rahim is the backbone of the Bangladesh team and as the skipper will need to lead by example with bat in hand.
Mehedi may still be a teenager but the leggie poses the greatest threat to a Sri Lankan team accustomed to spinners.
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 Squad: Mushfiqur Rahim (Captain), Tamim Iqbal (Vice Captain), Liton Das, Soumya Sarkar, Mominul Haque, Shakib Al Hasan, Imrul Kayes, Sabbir Rahman, Mustafizur Rahman, Taijul Islam, Mehedi Hasan Miraz, Taskin Ahmed, Mosaddek Hossain, Kamrul Islam Rabbi, Subashis Roy, Rubel Hossain.
Last five head-to-head results
2017 First Test: Sri Lanka won by 259 runs in Galle
2014 Second Test: Drawn match in Chittagong
2014 First Test: Sri Lanka won by an innings and 248 runs in Dhaka
2013 Second Test: Sri Lanka won by seven wickets in Colombo
2013 First Test: Drawn match in Galle
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 Sundaram Ravi
TV Umpire: Marais Erasmus
Match Referee: Andy Pycroft
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