Bangladesh have faced Sri Lanka in the Test arena on 16 occasions and are yet to register a win against the Lions, having lost 14 and drawn 2 games. However, this time around, the Tigers will come into the 2 match series with renewed confidence for two reasons in particular.
The 1st being the fact that Bangladesh will be facing a Sri Lankan line-up minus Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and TM Dilshan, all of whom have scored heavily against the Tigers in the past. As an added bonus, the home team will also be without their regular skipper and best batsman Angelo Mathews, who will miss the Tests due to a hamstring injury.
Regardless of Sri Lanka’s misfortunes, the Bangladeshis will come in with confidence, knowing that over the past year or so, they have shown that they do belong in the Test arena, with improved performances both home and away. Their historic win against England will no doubt give them added confidence as for the 1st time in quite a while, they were able to finish strong to claim a win.
Sri Lanka on the other hand will take pride in their mauling of Australia in their last home series and will no doubt be looking to continue dominance at home. The series will start off in Galle, where Sri Lanka have an impeccable record, winning 16 of the 28 Tests played; the last time they faced defeat there was in 2015 against Pakistan. Since then, the hosts have registered 2 of their more memorable wins in their entire Test history – a come from behind win against Virat Kohli’s India and the series sealing win against the Aussies last year.
Sri Lanka will be without skipper Angelo Mathews and the reins will be taken by veteran Rangana Herath. Herath had a good show when he lead the team against Zimbabwe late last year but he and the Lankans will know that the Bangladeshis are a different kettle of fish altogether and will be a much harder opposition to face.
Warhorse Herath will be Sri Lanka’s key with the ball once again as he looks to extend his dominance in his favourite hunting ground, the Galle International Cricket Stadium. He will most likely be partnered by the experienced Dilruwan Perera and the pair will be bestowed the responsibility of halting what looks like a strong Bangladeshi batting line-up.
Sri Lanka’s batting has been the problem for them of late and poor form has seen opener Kaushal Silva left out of the side, meaning that the hosts will have a new opening partnership for this series. A timely comeback to form against the England Lions sees Dimuth Karunaratne retaining his place while doubts still remain as to who will partner him at the top of the order. Word is that, with Dinesh Chandimal keeping the gloves, Niroshan Dickwella is in line to take on the challenge at the top of the order.
Mathews’ spot is expected to be taken by Upul Tharanga, while in-form batman Asel Gunaratne is likely to take up the no. 7 spot.
Probable XI: Dimuth Karunarathne, Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya De Silva, Upul Tharanga, Dinesh Chandimal, Asela Gunarathne, Dilruwan Perera, Rangana Herath (Captain), Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Kumara
There is no question as to the fact that Bangladesh has improved in leaps and bounds over the last couple of years however their core strength remains with their spin bowling department. It has taken 19 year old Mehedi Hasan just 5 Tests to establish himself as Bangladesh’s strike bowler after some masterful showings against England at home. He will lead the spin attack which will feature premier all-rounder Shakib Al-Hasan and left arm orthodox bowler Taijul Islam. The Tigers will be bolstered by the return of ‘The Fizz’ Mustafizur Rahman who will partner Taskin Ahamed with the new ball.
The batting line-up will be held up by the big three, Tamim Iqbal, skipper Mushfiqur Rahim and Shaqib Al-Hasan. All three come into the game with some reasonable form, with Iqbal impressing against the Sri Lanka Board XI with a cracking century just last week. Rahim has been relieved of the keeping duties and will be looking to make his mark as a pure batsman, batting up at no. 4.
Probable XI – Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Mominul Haq, Mushfiqur Rahim (Captain), Shakib Al-Hasan, Mahmudullah, Liton Das, Mehedi Hasan, Taijul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Taskin Ahamed.
All in all recent form seems to suggest that it will be an evenly contested series, perhaps Bangladesh’s best chance to register their 1st win against the Lions. But the hosts will be wary of this threat and will hope that they have enough in the bag to maintain their golden run at home.