A new Prime Minister in the country, a new cricket coach and a host of newcomers in the Test side. Sri Lanka, on and off the field, are making a new start, of sorts. They take on a Bangladesh side that is keen to restore some parity in 2022, where they have blown hot and cold, so far.
They could put together a revamped top six, with Lahiru Thirimanne, Charith Asalanka and Pathum Nissanka out of the Test side. The pace attack too has to step up after Suranga Lakmal had retired after the previous series, and the board asking Lahiru Kumara and Dushmantha Chameera to focus on white-ball cricket.
All these changes would put a lot of onus on Dimuth Karunaratne, their captain, and also, the highest run-scorer for Sri Lanka in the last two years. The likes of Kusal Mendis and Dhananjaya de Silva would bank on their recent experience in Bangladesh's domestic competition. The left-arm spin duo of Lasith Embuldeniya and Praveen Jayawickrama will form their bowling arsenal against a home side that is doubting itself against spin recently.
Bangladesh's scores of 53 and 80 against South Africa in the previous series have put them under immense pressure, going into their first home Test of this year. They have usually batted well in Chattogram. Shakib Al Hasan's inclusion might be a bit of relief but whether he will be at his 100%, soon after recovering from Covid, has to be seen.
Mominul Haque has to find his form, end his lengthy run drought in Chattogram. As a captain, he will have tough decisions to make in his bowling attack, given Bangladesh are without their key bowlers Mehidy Hasan Miraz and Taskin Ahmed, and, Shakib's bowling is unlikely to be in full capacity.
(Last five completed matches; most recent first)
Sri Lanka LLWWW
In the spotlight
Mahmudul Hasan Joy has already seen both sides of the coin in his first six months of international cricket. Starting with a duck, he impressed with a solid fifty in New Zealand and a century in South Africa, but then came the pair in Gqeberha, which exposed a bit of his weakness against moving outswinger.
His last Test century came more than two years ago, but Kusal Mendis is among runs. He struck an unbeaten first-class century in Hambantota, and another hundred in the Dhaka Premier League, Bangladesh's premier one-day competition, a month ago. A solid knock in Sri Lanka's top order will go probably set the tone of the Test series.
Shakib is likely to bat at No 7, but the big decision will be who replaces Mehidy Hasan Miraz. Mosaddek Hossain might be a safe choice at No 8, as he offers a bit of batting and can bowl 12-15 overs a day. Picking Nayeem Hasan or going with a three-man pace attack would be a bold move from a Bangladesh perspective.
Sri Lanka will have to make at least three changes to the side that played the second Test against India in Bengaluru. They could drop Dinesh Chandimal to pick an extra bowling option in Ramesh Mendis or Chamika Karunaratne.
Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium has the highest batting average (minimum 10 matches) in Asia in the last 10 years, make it a welcome change for the Bangladesh batters who usually have a difficult time in Dhaka. Rain, even the odd thunderstorm, is in the forecast for all five days of this Test.
Stats and trivia
Among the current players, only Mushfiqur Rahim has scored more than 1,000 runs in Bangladesh-Sri Lanka contests.
Sri Lanka are likely to play both their left-arm spinners in Chattogram, but overseas left-armers haven't been as successful in Bangladesh. The last five-wicket haul taken by a visiting left-arm spinner was in 2008.
"We have to play well over five days. We have to dominate the game. We are not worried about the opponents." Bangladesh captain Mominul Haque when asked about his side's inability to play well in the latter stages of a Test match .
"That's a big advantage for us. Naweed Nawaz has been with the Under-19 side for a few years, but he knows the conditions so we can get some ideas from him. But I don't think the previous years' results have any bearing on this series. I think we have to play good from ball one up to day five. I don't think we've won in Chittagong, even though we've won most of the matches in Dhaka. So I think we need to make a change to start off on a winning note here." Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne speaks about their new assistant coach who is a Under-19 World Cup winner for Bangladesh.