Mushfiqur optimistic of 'chance' against Sri Lanka
Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim has said that his team has a chance to challenge home side Sri Lanka during the two-Test series that begins on March 7. Mushfiqur lined up a number of reasons that would be to the visitors' advantage including the lack of senior players in the Sri Lanka line-up and his side's recent form and experience.
For the first time in Tests between the two sides, Bangladesh will be facing a Sri Lanka line-up without Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan or Thilan Samaraweera. Three of these four batsmen were the heaviest scorers against Bangladesh and as a bonus, Angelo Mathews, who averages 57 against Bangladesh, will also be missing due to a hamstring injury.
"They [Sri Lanka] are without some of the players who have been doing well for a long time as well as their regular captain Angelo Mathews," Mushfiqur said. "They would also be aware of Bangladesh doing well in recent times. We also have Sri Lankans in our coaching staff who can provide us with key information. So taking everything into consideration, we do have a chance in front of us. If we can play our best cricket, the result will be in our favour. We have been able to raise our standard of cricket. It has also contributed to the expectations placed on us. People now believe that if Bangladesh plays well, they can win against any team.
Mushfiqur said that playing their third consecutive Test series in the span of three months will keep Bangladesh tuned to the format. He was also banking heavily on three of his most talented bowlers to bring him wickets and stability.
"I must say that the opposition will feel the pressure playing against a bowling attack that has Shakib [Al Hasan], Mustafizur [Rahman] and [Mehedi Hasan] Miraz. In addition, we are going to play a third Test series in a row, in a short span of time. This will certainly be an advantage to us."
Mushfiqur said that the bowling attack will have to perform better than they did in New Zealand and India, simply because they now have the added experience.
"Our bowling unit hasn't improved as much as our batting unit has. They are inexperienced. They will get better by playing more and more matches. I think our fielders are also to blame for the bowlers not living up to expectations.
"I believe that Mustafizur, Taskin [Ahmed], Rubel [Hossain], Subashis [Roy], Miraz and Shakib are all capable in bringing us 20 wickets in a Test match. We are going to Sri Lanka with a strong unit."
Mushfiqur was, however, wary of the big threat they would be up against in Sri Lanka - spinner Rangana Herath, who has taken 25 wickets at a bowling average of 25.60 in six Tests against Bangladesh. Mushfiqur said that keeping him quiet will help them get big scores.
"Herath is one of the best bowlers in the world, so we will have plans for him like we do for every player. Some of us have already faced him so we have some idea of tackling him," Mushfiqur said. "If he doesn't take many wickets, we can have more runs on the scoreboard."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84