'Our best chance in Sri Lanka' - Mushfiqur
Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim has said he wants to correct Bangladesh's woefully poor record in Sri Lanka. They have lost all eight Tests played there since 2001, but he believes the current team is capable of making a difference this time.
"The tour is a big opportunity if we can play to our potential," Mushfiqur said. "We don't have a good record in Sri Lanka. So to do well we have to continue playing the way we have in the last 12 months."
Mushfiqur hoped to use the momentum from Bangladesh's last international series, where they pushed West Indies in the Tests and beat them in the ODIs. He was also encouraged by the dearth of experienced bowlers in Sri Lanka and the major injury concerns for the home side, although Bangladesh are also without their most effective player, allrounder Shakib Al Hasan.
Mahela Jayawardene has been ruled out of the Test series after dislocating the middle finger on his left hand, while Sangakkara has only just begun batting in the nets after sustaining a fracture on his left index finger during Sri Lanka's Australia tour. Jayawardene has been replaced by Thilan Samaraweera, who himself has twisted his knee and is an injury concern, but Sangakkara is likely to be named in the 15-man Test squad in a few days.
"There are sporting wickets in Sri Lanka hence we have to apply ourselves," Mushfiqur said. "They are going to miss [Mahela] Jayawardene which will be a big loss for them. Kumar Sangakkara's participation is also uncertain, so they will be weaker without two of their best batsmen. Their bowling attack is not extraordinary. They haven't won many Tests after [Muttiah] Muralitharan and [Chaminda] Vaas retired. So this is our best chance to do well in Sri Lanka."
Mushfiqur would also like to improve Bangladesh's away record as a whole. "There haven't been [many] instances of [us] doing well abroad. We haven't played consistently and there usually have been lots of changes in the squad. There are some new faces this time too, but this is a very promising side.
"We did well in our last series against West Indies. I don't think anyone gave us a chance, but we were consistent and ended up winning the ODI series."
Bangladesh are also travelling with several players on their first Test tour, especially the young batsmen Anamul Haque and Mominul Haque who impressed during the ODI series against West Indies. Mushfiqur has asked the younger players to view this tour as a start, and not just a reward for their performances so far.
"They deserve a place in the Test squad. They have done well for the A team, and also during the BPL. Some of them have made good ODI debuts, so I hope they bring [a similar] performance to the Test side. For those who have been recalled, it is reward for their performance over the last year and a half. But they shouldn't think this is the end, this is just the beginning."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent