Sri Lanka guard against travel weariness
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Start time 0930 local (0330 GMT)
Having received their fourth-worst clobbering in Mirpur, Bangladesh need to find their resolve to make the Chittagong Test more of a contest. Peppered by bouncers in the first Test, the Bangladesh batsmen appeared more interested in providing short-lived entertainment than working through the tough periods. The end result was the kind of performance that diminished the advances Bangladesh have made in Test cricket.
Though the batting was their most conspicuous failure, Bangladesh will also want to eliminate the fielding mistakes that squandered key chances in Mirpur. Their bowling was not as toothless as Sri Lanka's total of 730 for 6 suggests, but they too could do with a boost in spirit.
Two injuries to major Sri Lanka players will make Bangladesh's task easier in the second Test, however. Rangana Herath's problematic knee has flared up and Shaminda Eranga has a thigh strain after a month of heavy work, ruling both out of the Test.*
Perhaps in light of their workload over the past month (they played 18 Test-match days in January), Sri Lanka have had an unusually casual lead-in to the second Test. They trained at a low intensity on both days before the Test, perhaps also concerned that sore bodies could lead to more injury.
Some players may also be beginning to experience tour fatigue. Sri Lanka were in the UAE since the first week of December, and had fewer than 48 hours at home before they left for Bangladesh. With the limited-overs matches and Asia Cup also on the horizon, there is no end in sight. Their challenge will be to stay motivated and in control of their cricket. There have been four series since 2010 where Sri Lanka have taken a 1-0 lead, then finished with a series-leveling loss, and while Bangladesh will have to improve substantially to push the visitors, Sri Lanka should be wary of allowing their effort to subside.
Form guide(last five matches, most recent first)
Sri Lanka: WLWDW
In the spotlight
Dilruwan Perera's best contribution on debut had been his 95 from No. 8, but in Mirpur he showcased an appetite for wickets as well, as he extracted more turn than any other bowler. Sri Lanka require a reliable bowling allrounder to balance their side, and having tasted Test success, Perera will hope to sustain it. A bagful in Hearath's absence will go some way to ensuring he is picked for the England tour in June.
Tamim Iqbal made 6 and 11 in the first Test, and there is pressure on him to score in this game. He doesn't have three cheap innings on the trot on too many occasions, and will be expected to make a bigger contribution.
Pitch and conditions
The pitch is a typical Chittagong wicket - slow and flat. There will be far less bounce on offer for the faster bowlers, and runs will be available readily. The outfield is a little hard because there was a water shortage for three weeks last month, which affected the ground area. The grass has re-grown but the sandy base has remained.
Marshall Ayub is ruled out with a wrist injury and has been replaced by Imrul Kayes. The other major news is the dropping of Robiul Islam, which means that Rubel Hossain, who averages 81.23 in 19 Tests, has been retained. These were confirmed when chief selector Faruque Ahmed announced the 12-man team, which means that either of Abdur Razzak or Mahmudullah will make the playing XI.
Bangladesh: 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Shamsur Rahman, 3 Imrul Kayes, 4 Mominul Haque, 5 Shakib Al Hasan, 6 Mushfiqur Rahim (capt & wk), 7 Nasir Hossain, 8 Mahmudullah/Abdur Razzak, 9 Sohag Gazi, 10 Rubel Hossain, 11 Al-Amin Hossain
Nuwan Pradeep and Ajantha Mendis are the likeliest replacements for Eranga and Herath. Sri Lanka will almost certainly stay with the same side elsewhere.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Dimuth Karunaratne, 2 Kaushal Silva, 3 Kumar Sangakkara, 4 Mahela Jayawardene, 5 Dinesh Chandimal (wk), 6 Angelo Mathews (capt), 7 Kithuruwan Vithanage, 8 Dilruwan Perera, 9 Ajantha Mendis, 10 Suranga Lakmal, 11 Nuwan Pradeep
Stats and trivia
- There have been five centuries at this ground by Bangladesh batsmen, two of which were scored in the last Test here in October.
- Kumar Sangakkara has passed 50 in his last five innings against Bangladesh
- Angelo Mathews averages 99.60 in his last four Tests
"Senior players like me, Tamim and Shakib have to take up the responsibilty to get the runs."
Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim
"We're not very worried if Eranga and Herath can't play tomorrow. We have Nuwan Pradeep who took a lot of wickets in the one Test that he played, in Dubai, so we have some bench strength." Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews
* February 3 12.00pm GMT This story was updated after it was confirmed that Herath and Eranga will miss the Test
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here