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1st Test, Sylhet, March 22 - 25, 2024, Sri Lanka tour of Bangladesh
280 & 418
(T:511) 188 & 182

Sri Lanka won by 328 runs

Player Of The Match
102 & 108

Expect plenty of spice as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka take scrap to Test arena

Mushfiqur Rahim and Asitha Fernando have been key figures for their teams in red-ball cricket, but are missing from this contest

Captains Dhananjaya de Silva and Najmul Hossain Shanto pose with the Test series trophy, Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka, Sylhet, March 21, 2024

Captains Dhananjaya de Silva and Najmul Hossain Shanto pose with the Test series trophy  •  BCB

Big picture - Key players missing for both sides

It's been nearly two years since these two sides faced each other in the longest format of the game. Such is the paucity of Test cricket on offer for teams outside of the Big Three these days - Bangladesh have played eight Tests to Sri Lanka's 11 since their last contest - there's not much by way of a body of work to discern any emerging trends in these sides.
For Bangladesh, the most recent series at home was against New Zealand - which they drew 1-1, courtesy an emphatic 150-run victory in the first Test - and it offered up perhaps the biggest indicator of their upward trajectory in the red-ball format. The manner of the victory, one that came on a Sylhet surface that offered something for both bat and ball, would have been encouraging, particularly against one of the stronger Test nations.
For Sri Lanka, they recently embarked on a new era with Dhananjaya de Silva taking over the captaincy from Dimuth Karunaratne, with the first and only Test under Dhananjaya a comfortable victory over Afghanistan. Though the sample size is small, Dhananjaya's proactiveness with both field placements and bowling changes offered a glimpse into what we might expect going forward.
Both sides, though, come into this series missing key cogs in their respective wheels.
Mushfiqur Rahim's absence with a thumb fracture would have been a hammer blow, and one that significantly weakens the Bangladesh middle order, while Asitha Fernando's hamstring injury means Sri Lanka are without a potent and tireless exponent of short-pitch bowling - something that was key in their series win back in 2022, when he grabbed 13 wickets across two Tests.
And yes, the recent back and forth stemming from timed-out celebrations and helmet shenanigans also provides a spicy backdrop to the contest. But the less said about that the better.

Recent form

Bangladesh LWWWL (completed matches, most recent first)
Sri Lanka WLLWW
When Sri Lanka last toured Bangladesh in 2022, it was left to Mushfiqur Rahim and Litton Das to hold fort as the rest of the batting unit largely crumbled. Since then, the likes of Najmul Hossain Shanto and Mominul Haque have begun to step forward more frequently, but with Mushfiqur out injured, this will a rare occasion in recent history that none of Mushfiqur, Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah feature in a Bangladesh Test XI.
While Towhid Hridoy - one of three uncapped players in the squad - offers unproven excitement, the experience in Bangladesh's middle order pales in comparison to that of Sri Lanka. With Litton also in the middle of a lean stretch of form, skipper Shanto will lead a side where be Mominul will be the only player with over 50 caps. But with three centuries in his last six innings, and a Player-of-the-Series award in the recent ODIs against Sri Lanka, Shanto is a leader very much capable of leading Bangladesh from the front, in the field and with the bat.
For Sri Lanka, with their batting more or less settled, it's the bowling where there might be some concerns, particularly the absence of Asitha, who has been key to their recent Test successes. While they still boast a good seam attack, much will depend on how left-arm spinner Prabath Jayasuriya fares. Aside from three Tests in New Zealand, Jayasuriya has exclusively operated in home comforts - where he has been hugely effective, grabbing 63 wickets over eight Tests. But this tour of Bangladesh offers him a first opportunity on a subcontinental surface away from home. Spinners have traditionally ruled the roost in Sylhet and Jayasuriya will be aiming to do the same.

Team news

Bangladesh are likely to hand debuts to middle-order batter Hridoy and uncapped tearaway Nahid Rana. Litton also returns after he missed the New Zealand Tests owing to personal reasons. Mushfiqur and Nurul Hasan are missing from the last team, while Nayeem Hasan could give away his spot to Rana.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Zakir Hasan, 2 Mahmudul Hasan Joy, 3 Najmul Hossain Shanto (capt), 4 Mominul Haque, 5 Towhid Hridoy, 6 Litton Das (wk), 7 Shahadat Hossain, 8 Mehidy Hasan Miraz, 9 Taijul Islam, 10 Shoriful Islam, 11 Nahid Rana
Sri Lanka's batting line-up is quite settled and so there are unlikely to be any surprises on that front. The only point of contention will be whether they opt for two or three seamers. Chamika Gunasekara, who suffered a concussion against Afghanistan, is back in contention. If they opt for an extra spinner, Ramesh Mendis could find his way into the side.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Dimuth Karunaratne, 2 Nishan Madushka, 3 Kusal Mendis, 4 Angelo Mathews, 5 Dinesh Chandimal, 6 Dhananjaya de Silva (capt), 7 Sadeera Samarawickrama (wk), 8 Ramesh Mendis/Chamika Gunasekara, 9 Prabath Jayasuriya, 10 Kasun Rajitha, 11 Vishwa Fernando

Pitch and conditions - Rain expected in Sylhet

Sylhet is once again expected to be good for batting, but Bangladesh coach Chandika Hathurusinghe has spotted a green tinge on the pitch, which makes it different from the slightly more barren look from the Test match against New Zealand in November. The Sylhet weather, though, isn't great: there's likely to be rain on days two to five.

Stats and trivia

  • Mominul is 117 runs off 4000 in Tests. He will be the fourth Bangladesh batter to achieve the feat if and when he gets there
  • Bangladesh are yet to beat Sri Lanka in a Test match in Bangladesh
  • The Sri Lanka trio of Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal and Dimuth Karunaratne have more Test caps (273) than the entire Bangladesh squad (271)
  • Quotes

    "Shoriful played a lot of white-ball cricket so we are giving him time off. He doesn't need to bowl because he bowled a lot of overs. He is ready to play."
    Chandika Hathurusinghe on giving time off training to his pace spearhead
    "In any format of cricket, I think experience will be valuable for the side. We have more experienced players in our side like Angelo, Dimuth, Chandimal. So I think yeah, we have a good side."
    Dhananjaya de Silva is banking on his experienced core

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