Sri Lanka v Bangladesh, 1st Test, Galle March 6, 2017

Battle-hardened Bangladesh threaten Sri Lanka's home run


Match Facts

March 7-11, 2017
Start time: 10am local (0430GMT)

Play 04:15
Fernando: Talks of Sri Lanka playing five bowlers

Big Picture

The last time Bangladesh came to Galle, they played on perhaps the flattest pitch seen in Sri Lanka this decade - one which saw the visitors amass 638, while Mushfiqur Rahim hit his nation's first ever international double-hundred.

Four years later, things have changed. Bangladesh no longer need a placid surface to prosper. Sri Lanka, meanwhile, has consistently thrown up the most difficult batting conditions in the world. Despite frequent rains, and relatively early sunsets, each of the last 13 Tests in the country have yielded results, and only once since 2013 in that period has 500 been breached by any team.

Following Sri Lanka's awful run in the South Africa Tests, it is perhaps tempting for Bangladesh to see the hosts as particularly vulnerable, but maybe this is overstating it. Sri Lanka have, after all, won each of their last five home Tests, whitewashing Australia and West Indies. In those matches, they also have settled on something of a home formula: bat first, score quickly before the pitch turns, set Rangana Herath and the spinners loose, and watch them gobble the opposition up.

But where Bangladesh may stick it to Sri Lanka, is with their attack. Australia and West Indies had quicks, but neither had bowlers as skilled at wreaking havoc on dusty tracks as Mustafizur Rahman, Shakib Al Hasan or Mehedi Hasan. Their batsmen are more accustomed to Asian tracks as well, and envenoming the visitors in their back room is a man with intimate knowledge of Sri Lankan conditions, and the Sri Lankan system.

Form guide

Sri Lanka LLLWW (completed matches, most recent first)
Bangladesh LLLWL

Niroshan Dickwella will have to juggle wicketkeeping and batting for Sri Lanka © AFP

In the spotlight

Some say he is Sri Lanka's most frustrating player. Others will claim he has been treated terribly by the selectors. Whatever the case, Upul Tharanga is set to come home to the opening position, this time, you hope, with a little more conviction than he has sometimes brought to the top order. Sri Lanka has been one of the toughest places in the world for an opening batsman, in recent years, so it won't be a party exactly. But 32 years old now, and with a very good ODI hundred in his recent history, Tharanga will hope he can bed down in this position until the end of his career.

A double-ton in his last match at this venue, outstanding hundreds in each of his 2017 Tests, Mushfiqur Rahim should be approaching this game on a soaring cloud of confidence, only he has also just had the wicketkeeping gloves taken off his hands. The reasoning behind that decision is sound. Mushfiqur is perhaps capable of raising that batting average to well over 40, if he only has one discipline to focus on in the longest format. A reduced workload may also prove beneficial to his leadership. How Mushfiqur responds to a forced modification of his role may make for intriguing viewing.

Team news

There is some talk in the Sri Lanka camp of playing only six batsmen for the first time in what feels like centuries. However, with Asela Gunaratne and Dhananjaya de Silva both capable of contributing with the ball, Sri Lanka may just stick with tradition and go with the 7-4 split. Dilruwan Perera is the incumbent second spinner, and is unlikely to be displaced. Lahiru Kumara may partner Suranga Lakmal on the pace front.

Captain Herath also confirmed Niroshan Dickwella will take the gloves in this match, meaning Dinesh Chandimal is likely to bat at No. 4.

Sri Lanka (probable) 1 Dimuth Karuanaratne, 2 Upul Tharanga, 3 Kusal Mendis, 4 Dinesh Chandimal, 5 Asela Gunaratne, 6 Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 7 Dhananjaya de Silva, 8 Dilruwan Perera, 9 Rangana Herath (capt.), 10 Suranga Lakmal, 11 Lahiru Kumara

Mustafizur Rahman is set for his first Test since July-August 2015 © AFP

Mushfiqur said at the pre-match press conference that Bangladesh will wait till the last minute on the exact number of fast bowlers. Surprisingly, it is Subashis Roy who is being considered as the third seamer ahead of Kamrul Islam Rabbi. If they go for three specialist spinners in the XI, Taijul Islam is the obvious choice.

Bangladesh (probable): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Soumya Sarkar, 3 Mominul Haque, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (capt), 5 Shakib Al Hasan, 6 Mahmudullah, 7 Liton Das (wk), 8 Mehedi Hasan, 9 Taijul Islam/Subashis Roy, 10 Mustafizur Rahman, 11 Taskin Ahmed

Pitch and conditions

This is a slightly unusual Galle surface, in that there was live grass on it two days before the match. As such, it may hold together for longer than the most recent Galle surfaces, but with sea breeze blowing in, and the intensity of the March sunshine that is forecast to fall upon the venue, expect it to be a dustbowl by the end of day four.

Stats and trivia

  • In 16 Tests between these teams, Bangladesh have lost 14 games. However both draws have come in the last four years.
  • Herath has 357 Test wickets - five short of the tally of Daniel Vettori, who is presently the most successful left-arm spinner in history.
  • This is the first time Mustafizur and Mehedi are available to play in the same Test
  • Chandimal averages 128.33 against Bangladesh, with three centuries in five innings.


"Shakib and Mehedi have done well recently, and I'm sure they will be up for the challenge here as well. I see a lot of improvement in their team. Chandika Hathurusingha has done well for them. I am glad that he has helped them improve as he is one of our former players."
Sri Lanka captain Rangana Herath is not taking Bangladesh lightly

"It is probably a bit different than the 2013 Test. It is still a nice wicket to bat on, although I think there will be something for the quicks in the first two days. The wind might also help them with movement. As the days progress, spin will also come into play."
Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim on the Galle pitch

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Karthik Eyan on March 7, 2017, 18:04 GMT

    Battlehardened? Seriously ?

  • Khaled Ahmed on March 7, 2017, 15:22 GMT

    Bd going to lose this match dont hope much

  • Amila on March 7, 2017, 4:26 GMT

    The 2 tests are played in Galle and P Sara Oval. Previously BD played only one Test at Galle in 2013, where they were able to secure a draw against SL for the 1st time, in a flat road which favored batters heavily (Batting averages, SL - 113.13, BD - 64.36). They were able to make some BD batting records too. Traditionally Galle is considered a fortress for SL (16 won, 6 lost, 6 draw). But to gain that advantage the pitch should not be a dust bowl (which could favor BD spinners as it did help Aus in 2004 and 2011, Ind in 2008, Pak in 2015) or not a flat road (could lead to draws like vs BD in 2013).

    At P Sara Oval, BD played 3 Test matches (2002, 2005 and 2007) and all were lost each by an innings. Therefore BD does not have good memories there. Although P Sara Oval was a fortress for SL before 2010 (7 won, 2 lost, 4 draw), it has become a winning venue for visitors since 2010 (visitors won 4, SL won 2) which could be a morale booster information for this improved BD team.

    Good luck.

  • Buddhika on March 7, 2017, 4:20 GMT

    My Prediction before the series SL will win Test Series at least 1-0 BD will win ODI Series 2-1 SL win win T20 Series 2-0

  • Ram on March 7, 2017, 4:19 GMT

    Its all done

  • ranjana on March 7, 2017, 3:54 GMT

    This is the ideal time for BD fans to talk about their strength and the team and the past and their performance at home and bla bla bla.... because there is nothing left to talk about after the match. Whatever said and done tigers are great fighters until the Lion comes to the ground.

  • Md.Rezwanul Karim on March 7, 2017, 3:43 GMT

    cricfan78118421 on March 7, 2017, 2:00 GMT "not expecting BD to score more than 200 and will not be pleased anything less than 450 from SL" Bangladesh has a good batting line up..the best bowling line up even will find it hard..unless they collapsed like the best batting line up pf the world!

  • Dancing on March 7, 2017, 2:12 GMT

    Those who commented here out of frustation of India vs Australia series, I suggest you to enjoy the series. From a fair point of view, Though Bangladesh doesn't matches with SL here, still recent performances of the players can easily poise threats. It's a WAY BETTER ATTITUDE than 'big boy being humiliated in 3days'. Cheers mates.

  • mganga7126683 on March 7, 2017, 2:00 GMT

    not expecting BD to score more than 200 and will not be pleased anything less than 450 from SL

  • Shishir Bhattarai on March 7, 2017, 1:59 GMT

    a good contest to happen as Sri Lanka team's performance is decling and Bangladesh is rising!

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