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Can Bangladesh take a leaf, or five, out of Sri Lanka's playbook?

Mahmudullah will lead Bangladesh in Shakib Al Hasan's absence Getty Images

Bangladesh are likely to have it tough in the Test series in New Zealand, but for motivation - and help with strategy - they can certainly look at Sri Lanka, and what they did to win 2-0 in South Africa.

Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have some similarities too. Sri Lanka hadn't done too well in South Africa on previous tours, while Bangladesh have never beaten New Zealand in their backyard. Or anywhere, for that matter, losing 10 of the 13 times they have played in the format; all three draws have come at home.

Bangladesh are also without two of their top batsmen and are playing with a new-look pace attack. Ahead of the first Test in Hamilton, ESPNcricinfo looks at five factors that Bangladesh can focus on to emulate Sri Lanka.

Take the game deep

Bangladesh have often looked like they have given up the fight after a bad first day of a Test, and that has contributed to a poor series on occasion too. There have been instances of a bad opening bowling spell putting them off for the rest of the game. A batting collapse early on usually has had a worse effect.

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With three of Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner and Matt Henry likely to be in the playing XI, New Zealand will want to put pressure on Bangladesh early. Taking the game deep, playing out sessions, can only help Bangladesh, especially if the ODI series is anything to go by. It might serve to narrow the margin between the two sides, and even if they don't bat or bowl well in the first half of the game, there's always a chance to come back, like Sri Lanka did in the fourth innings in Durban.

Give freedom to the young pacers

One of the things Sri Lanka, and new captain Dimuth Karunaratne, did well in South Africa was to let rookie pacers Vishwa Fernando and Kasun Rajitha bowl with freedom.

Mahmudullah, leading in Shakib Al Hasan's injury-enforced absence, should have a similar talk with Abu Jayed, Khaled Ahmed and Ebadat Hosain, who are all quite green in international cricket. Letting them bowl to their strengths could be the best way to let them operate.

The three young pacers should also keep in mind that previous Bangladeshi pace attacks - in New Zealand and South Africa in 2017 - did poorly because they got over-excited in helpful conditions. Using the conditions smartly, like Robiul Islam did in Zimbabwe in 2013, might be more helpful.

Make the most of the opportunity

Mahmudullah has said that those replacing Shakib and Mushfiqur Rahim, who is also injured, in the line-up should grab their opportunities.

Soumya Sarkar, who has remained in New Zealand as Shakib's replacement, and Liton Das, who is likely to take over the gloves in place of Mushfiqur, must stand up after letting slip their chances in the ODI series.

Newcomers like Shadman Islam and Mohammad Mithun, too, should treat this Test series to establish themselves in the format, while Tamim Iqbal and Mahmudullah have the ideal platform to be the leaders they can be.

Eerily similar was Sri Lanka's batting situation in South Africa after they dropped regular captain Dinesh Chandimal, while Angelo Mathews was injured. But it didn't deter their batsmen, particularly Kusal Perera, who made that incredible match-winning hundred in Durban.

Find your own hustle

Bangladesh must motivate themselves, and it has to start right from the top. Mahmudullah has reasons to like Hamilton, having scored two centuries there. Tamim didn't make too many runs in the ODIs, which should be hurting him enough to bring out a strong performance. But it's important for the rest of the team to not be in slumber mode. A bad performance here could cost them places in the World Cup squad.

It's not as easy as switching on or switching off a button, but sometimes, it can be as simple too.

Sri Lanka, too, could have felt that losing in South Africa was all right. But they dared to think differently.

Don't think about the past

Bangladesh have endured several bad days in New Zealand since they started touring the country in 1997. They have never won a Test match, and know that the ball will swing - a lot - for the first couple of hours, and that their batsmen, whether dour or exciting, won't let go of scoring opportunities.

Sri Lanka had won only one out of their previous 13 Tests in South Africa before the 2019 show. With a drastically different side this time, a negative mindset was going to be the easy way out. Instead, they ignored history, and made history of their own. Bangladesh have that opportunity too.