Mushfiqur hopeful of Tamim playing
Bangladesh's captain, Mushfiqur Rahim, is hopeful that opener Tamim Iqbal will play the Galle Test despite pain in his right hand. Tamim's presence will bolster a top order that has had to be restructured after injuries to Shahriar Nafees and Naeem Islam, and the uncertainty over Tamim's opening partner in the last two years.
Thursday's nets session was restricted by rain though, meaning the Bangladesh team management could not get an extended look at how the pain might affect his batting. "Tamim had an injury during the Bangladesh Premier League but hopefully he will be fit for the Test," Mushfiqur said. "He is not 100% fit yet, but hopefully he will come good and play for us." The team would have another look at where Tamim stands during practice on the morning of the Test, he said.
Tamim has played through pain on previous occasions, most famously at Lord's and in Manchester in 2010, scoring centuries in both Tests. But the team would also be mindful of his value at the top of the batting order, and will hope his playing doesn't cause him any longer-term harm.
Despite his inclusion, Bangladesh wouldn't be guaranteed a strong batting performance if the batsmen who are strong at playing spin do not counter the threat of Rangana Herath. Mushfiqur acknowledged the importance of dealing with Herath: "The wicket will be good to bat on for the first two days, and then the ball will spin. We have that in the back of our minds. We have some good players of spin, and if they can show their potential, it will be a good Test series. He [Herath] is one of the leading wicket-takers for Sri Lanka in last two years. He is also their main bowler in the attack. We have played left-arm spinners but he is a different type of bowler, so hopefully we will take up the challenge against him."
Mushfiqur has given Mohammad Ashraful the task of batting at No. 3, a position that has not been secured by any of the five batsmen who have batted there since Habibul Bashar's retirement five years ago. Mushfiqur said: "Ashraful will continue at No. 3, as he has done in the practice match. We need his experience and skills.
"No. 3 is the best position, and it is for the team's best player. If you take a look at other No. 3s around the world, they have great records. We lack in this area, but whoever plays at No. 3 will take the opportunity." Mushfiqur was also open to the idea of having Mahmudullah batting up the order.
There is no extra pressure on the team in the absence of the injured Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur said. "We have played without Shakib for parts of the series against West Indies, so nothing much has changed. I think a bit of pressure can be a good thing, and I am confident we, as a team, can handle it."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent