Bangladesh are expecting a 'competitive' series when they travel to Sri Lanka for a two-match Test series, and the captain Mominul Haque is hoping the team rises up to the challenge to get out of their current rut.
Bangladesh will be off to Colombo on Monday to play their last matches in the World Test Championship, where they find themselves in the bottom of the points table. They will play both Tests in Pallekele, before which they have a two-day practice match in Katunayake from April 16. Having lost their last eight international matches, Bangladesh's tour of Sri Lanka comes amid growing calls at home for vast improvements in their performance.
Haque, who has won one out of six Tests he has led since 2019, said that their situation can only improve with a positive result in Sri Lanka.
"Sri Lanka are a great team at home," Haque said. "It will be challenging for us. It won't be easy for us. But the situation we find ourselves in, we have to take up this challenge and get a good result. I think it will be a competitive series. Both teams have good pace bowlers. Batting is going to be very important. We haven't been batting up to everyone's expectations off late."
Bangladesh will not have Shakib Al Hasan and Mustafizur Rahman on this tour, both playing in the IPL. Shakib had opted out of the tour while the selectors left out Rahman after he didn't do well in the Chattogram Test against West Indies in February.
Haque said that he is not too worried about the missing stars, and more focused on bringing the best out of his squad.
"I am not of the thinking that we won't get results if Shakib bhai and Mustafiz aren't in the XI. They are good players but they don't have 10 or 12 hands. I think we are not getting results because we aren't playing as a team."
Bangladesh will go to Sri Lanka with their 21-member preliminary squad so that they can choose the Test squad after the practice match. Haque said that when a team is losing, selecting the playing XI becomes easier as those out of form keep making way for others.
"Forming a best XI is difficult when your team is getting good results. When there are two or three players vying for one spot. When you are not playing well, you can try someone or give someone a chance. Those not playing well creates those opportunities.
"Young players always want to contribute to the team. I think most of them are ready but we need to support the players."
"I have digested the fact that I am the captain, so I think I can handle the pressure. I think it is a positive type of pressure"Mominul Haque
Haque however believed that his red-ball players will be particularly better prepared as most of them played the NCL's first two rounds before it was postponed.
"Within all the limitations we have had over the last 12 months, I think we have done well in terms of preparations. I think the Test regulars have had better preparations than the one-day players. We have played two first-class games recently, and practiced with the red ball," he said.
Haque was under fire after Bangladesh's 2-0 loss to West Indies but he now believes he is equipped to take on the pressure of leading the side.
"Representing the team at the international level has some pressure with it. You have to take that much pressure especially when results are not going your way.
"It depends how you take it. I have digested the fact that I am the captain, so I think I can handle the pressure. I think it is a positive type of pressure."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84