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The Preview by Mohammad Isam
January 26, 2014
Bangladesh-Sri Lanka contests have not been fun, except for those cricket fans who like heavy thrashings and batting records. That has been the real story of these two teams since 2001. Over the last three years, the big defeats have lessened but the batting records have continued.
In the first Test of the 2013 series, however, some of the batting records went Bangladesh's way. Mushfiqur Rahim scored the country's first Test double-hundred, while Mohammad Ashraful made 190, his highest Test score. Ashraful had actually been a central figure as Sri Lanka used to be his favourite opponent, the only team against whom he has scored more than 1,000 runs. But now he is no longer a part of the Bangladesh set-up, having been embroiled in the BPL corruption controversy.
The focus has shifted to the likes of Mushfiqur, Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, and over the last twelve months to Nasir Hossain, Mominul Haque, Sohag Gazi and Robiul Islam. Bangladesh have a string of performers, all of whom have done something significant in the last 18 months.
Sri Lanka will rely on the stalwarts Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, but Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal are the newest Sri Lankan leadership pair that Bangladesh will need to watch. The form of the openers Kaushal Silva and Dimuth Karunaratne is impressive, as well as the threat that is posed by Shaminda Eranga, Suranga Lakmal and Rangana Herath.
If Bangladesh play to form and keep the questions about their Test status away for enough time, they will give Sri Lanka a run for their money, perhaps for the first time.
In the spotlight
Marshall Ayub missed opportunities to get to a milestone against New Zealand, but in the first Test, he would do well to capitalise should there be a chance. A talented batsman, he has been batting out of his usual middle-order position because Bangladesh haven't found a batsman to replace Habibul Bashar at No. 3 in the last seven years.
Pitch and conditions
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Shamsur Rahman/Imrul Kayes, 3 Marshall Ayub, 4 Mominul Haque, 5 Mushfiqur Rahim (capt & wk), 6 Shakib Al Hasan, 7 Nasir Hossain, 8 Sohag Gazi, 9 Abdur Razzak/Mahmudullah, 10 Robiul Islam, 11 Rubel Hossain.
For Sri Lanka, there could be a toss-up between Nuwan Pradeep and Dilruwan Perera. Given the conditions, one would think Perera would be persevered with. However, Bangladesh have struggled against a bowler with extra pace, so Pradeep could return to the squad, after being dropped for the final Test against Pakistan.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Kaushal Silva, 2 Dimuth Karunaratne, 3 Kumar Sangakkara, 4 Mahela Jayawardene, 5 Dinesh Chandimal, 6 Angelo Mathews (capt), 7 Prasanna Jayawardene (wk), 8 Dilruwan Perera/Nuwan Pradeep, 9 Shaminda Eranga, 10 Rangana Herath, 11 Suranga Lakmal.
Stats and trivia
Quotes"Pressure is a good thing for the Bangladesh team. We know that our place in the team is not permanent unless we perform regularly. There are people who are doing well in domestic cricket, and are pushing us."
"It looks really good for batting, but you can't predict it 100%. Generally the Dhaka wicket has been slow as well as good for batting."
Angelo Mathews, the Sri Lanka captain on what he expects from the Dhaka pitch.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Mohammad Isam
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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