Sri Lanka v Bangladesh series preview August 30, 2005

Bangladesh summon reinforcements

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Khaled Mashud takes the aerial approach to training in Colombo © AFP
Sri Lanka will be picking from a full-strength squad when they start their three-match one-day series against Bangladesh after Farveez Maharoof, who had been resting a hamstring niggle picked up during a practice game last week, passed a fitness test this morning.

Bangladesh, meanwhile, will be without Mashrafe Mortaza who is expected to be available only for the second game on Friday after suffering from back spasms during the team's only warm-up match on Sunday, a match they lost by 10 wickets.

"He is suffering from lower back pain and the assessment is that it's a muscle type injury," team physiotherapist Paul Close told reporters on Monday. "He made the right choice by pulling himself out of the game. It was not severe but enough to be worrying for him. But the move was a precautionary thing from his point of view. I think we are looking forward to get him back within four or five days."

Bangladesh have called Tapash Baisya, who was originally left out of the squad due to injury, over from Dhaka. Coach Dav Whatmore said that Baisya was "an additional player and not a replacement" in an interview with The Daily Star. Baisya, due to arrive on Tuesday, has been named in a 12-man squad for the first game. Bangladesh are set to play Syed Rasel, and Manjural Islam Rana, a spinning allrounder, has been named as Bangladesh's super-sub.

Bangladesh start the series as the overwhelming underdogs, but will be looking to rebuild on the progress made during their recent tour to England when they played a substantial part in bursting the aura of invincibility around the Australia team with a shock win in Cardiff. Whatmore, once again, is downplaying the importance of results.

"The win against Australia has prompted lots of comments around the world, but, never more than now, we have to totally focus on each individual's performance," Whatmore told Reuters. "The reality is that we are still ranked 10th and we are playing a team ranked second in the world, who are playing at the top of their game and in home conditions."

Sri Lanka, meanwhile, have promised a ruthless approach with Tom Moody - who has quickly settled as head coach to gain the confidence and respect of the players - promising no complacency after their recent victory in the Indian Oil Cup.

"We are far from complacent and have been preparing as we would against any team and we will be playing as a hard cricket as we would against any team," Moody told reporters. "From our point of view, this is an important stepping-stone towards our development as a one-day and team and we are taking it very seriously indeed."

While Maharoof is available for selection and almost certain of playing after his fine Indian Oil Cup, Sri Lanka will not be calling on the bowling services of Sanath Jayasuriya during the tournament. He has not fully recovered from his dislocated shoulder and will play only as a frontline batsman.

Sri Lanka have picked nine specialist batsmen in their squad, dropping two pace bowlers in the process, and are expected to use one of those extra batsmen - Upul Tharanga, Avishka Gunawardene or Thilan Samaraweera - as their super sub. They will start with a full-strength batting line-up and then consider experimenting only if they win the first two games.

"The slight change in the balance of our squad reflects the new regulations," said Moody. "We have a fair idea as to how we would like to approach it but we are going with a little bit of uncertainty as to what is the perfect way of approaching the new regulations."

Whatmore, who introduced aggressive pinch-hitters as Sri Lanka's coach back in 1996 after the first introduction of fielding restrictions, believes the new regulations will provide more entertainment. But he predicted that the laws will make chasing targets easier and favour the side batting second on a good pitch. "If the pitch is going to deteriorate batting second then I don't think it is going to make too much of a difference, but in good conditions an extra batsman will certainly help chasing down the score."

Sri Lanka (probable) 1 Marvan Atapattu (capt), 2 Sanath Jayasuriya, 3 Kumar Sangakkara, 4 Mahela Jayawardene, 5 Russel Arnold, 6 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 7 Upul Chandana, 8 Dilhara Lokuhettige, 9 Chaminda Vaas, 10 Farveez Maharoof, 11 Muttiah Muralitharan.

Bangladesh (probable) 1 Javed Omar, 2 Rajin Saleh, 3 Aftab Ahmed, 4 Mohammad Ashraful, 5 Habibul Bashar, 6 Shahriar Nafees, 7 Khaled Mahmud, 8 Mohammad Raffique, 9 Khaled Mashud, 10 Nazmul Hossain, 11 Syed Rasel.

Charlie Austin is Cricinfo's Sri Lankan correspondent