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The Preview by Sa'adi Thawfeeq in Colombo
June 24, 2007
Bangladesh can expect no respite from a charged up Sri Lanka when they confront them in a series of three Tests starting Monday at the SSC grounds.
"One thing we've realized is that whether we play Australia or Bangladesh whoever it is, even Zimbabwe we are going to treat every game as top priority for us," said Mahela Jayawardene.
"That's the attitude we've been having and its part of our success we've had in the last 2-3 years. We treat each and every game very seriously and make sure we put in more than 100 percent on every game. Attitude-wise, the enthusiasm, the aggression everything will be the same. The only thing we have to switch would be from one day cricket to Test cricket," he stated.
Sri Lanka will be greatly strengthened by the return of Kumar Sangakkara, Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan. All three have been playing county cricket in England and will return after the series against Bangladesh. "They are all keen to get back into playing Test cricket."
Sri Lanka will be playing a home Test after nearly 12 months. The last Test played at the SSC against South Africa in July 2006 was a memorable one for Jayawardene and Sangakkara. The pair shared a world record partnership of 624 runs for any wicket in Test cricket. Jayawardene went onto compile Sri Lanka's highest score in Test cricket, a monumental 374, while Sangakkara hit a career best 287. Sri Lanka piled up 756 runs and beat South Africa by an innings.
Bangladesh is keeping a close eye on experienced opener Javed Omar after he was laid ill with a virus. "Omar is coming through well and we hope he will be fit for the Test. Mehrab Hossain has been named as standby in the twelve just in case Omar fails to pull through," said Bangladesh coach Shaun Williams.
Williams who is standby coach until Bangladesh finds a successor to Dav Whatmore said that playing a full Test series of three matches would benefit Bangladesh a lot. "We are happy to have a three-Test series. It will give this young group in terms of experience a chance to educate themselves to get better at this level," said Williams.
"It's a learning curve for every player in the side as they strive to achieve success. I wouldn't at this stage set any goals for winning and losing. The more we face strong opposition the better it is for us to get to know how well we can play," he said.
|Bangladesh does show a lot of weaknesses in Test cricket. But then you'll never know. They keep improving and they could be a surprise package.|
Although there has been a lot of rain in the past few days the pitch looked firm and Jayawardene assessed that it would be a great wicket to bat on. "The ground staff has done a brilliant job to keep it dry. It looks a very good wicket. There will definitely be something for the fast bowlers and the spinners will have bounce and probably turn in the latter part of the Test. It will be a great wicket to bat on because the ball will definitely be coming on," said Jayawardene.
Sri Lanka will go into the Test with seven batters and four bowlers. Jayawardene said there will be a toss up between Dilhara Fernando and Farveez Maharoof. "Both of them are bowling really well, absolutely brilliantly. It's unfortunate that we have to keep one of the guys out. That's the choice we have to make. Whoever gets left out here will get an opportunity to come back and play one of the other Test matches," Jayawardene said.
"One of the reasons we are going with seven batsmen is that the line up we have is a bit inexperienced," he said. Sri Lanka are without experienced openers Sanath Jayasuriya (rested), Marvan Atapattu (unavailable) and Upul Tharanga (injured). They go into the Test with left-handers Michael Vandort who's played in six Tests and Malinda Warnapura who will be making his Test debut at the age of 28.
Jayawardene insisted that there would be no complacency on his team's part. "We will not take it easy. It's going to be 100 percent from the first ball. Bangladesh do show a lot of weaknesses in Test cricket. But then you'll never know. They keep improving and they could be a surprise package. You shouldn't leave them any room to come back at you. From the first ball onwards whether we are batting or bowling we are going to go after them and make sure we put them under pressure," he said. Bangladesh has lost all seven Tests played between the two countries.
Sri Lanka (from): Mahela Jayawardene (captain), Michael Vandort, Malinda Warnapura, Kumar Sangakkara, Chamara Silva, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Prasanna Jayawardene, Chaminda Vaas, Lasith Malinga, Muttiah Muralitharan, Dilhara Fernando, Farveez Maharoof, Malinga Bandara, Sajeewa de Silva.
Bangladesh (from): Mohammed Ashraful (captain), Mashrafa Mortaza, Abdur Razzak, Habibul Bashar, Javed Omar, Khaled Mashud, Mohammad Rafique, Rajin Saleh, Shahadat Hossain, Shahriar Nafees, Shakib Al Hasan, Mehrab Hossain.
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