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Nawaz expects his presence in Sri Lanka camp to spur on former Bangladesh Under-19 trainees

The Sri Lanka assistant coach helmed the team, which included Mahmudul Hasan Joy and Shoriful Islam, that won the 2020 U-19 World Cup

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Naveed Nawaz, head Coach of Bangladesh, interacts with the players during a nets session, Coolidge, January 25, 2022

Naveed Nawaz was with the Bangladesh Under-19 team till the World Cup earlier this year  •  ICC via Getty

Mahmudul Hasan Joy and Shoriful Islam will get a chance to meet and interact with Naveed Nawaz, their one-time mentor who is now in the opposition camp, as the assistant coach of the Sri Lanka team that is in Bangladesh for a two-Test series. The reunion will take place in Chattogram on May 12 before the first Test starts on May 15.
Former Sri Lanka international Nawaz, who was the head coach of the Bangladesh team that won the Under-19 World Cup in 2020, was recently appointed assistant to new Sri Lanka men's head coach Chris Silverwood, and is looking forward to meeting his "boys".
"They [Mahmudul and Shoriful] are skilled enough to handle any situation. Me being there [in the opposition dressing room] shouldn't mean anything to them because they have played and succeeded in international cricket," Nawaz said at a press interaction today. "I think that [his presence] would be a positive more than a negative for them.
"In the future, they will go to many countries to adapt and adjust to play at the highest level. I think those boys are really good players. One day, they will be legends of Bangladesh cricket. They are so good. I haven't seen them for a long time so they will of course be happy to see me around."
Nawaz had been a regular presence at the Shere Bangla National Stadium after he was appointed U-19 head coach in July 2018. He oversaw two World Cup campaigns, in 2020 and 2022, so seeing him in opposition colours at Sri Lanka's training session at the stadium on Sunday evoked mixed feelings for those present.
"It is good to be back in my country," Nawaz, who was in the running to replace Mickey Arthur as Sri Lanka's head coach in late 2021, said. "I enjoyed four years [with the U-19 team]. It was really good. I think I was able to give something to Bangladesh, to do justice to the four years."
Speaking about the series, Nawaz said he expected tough contests, primarily between the two batting units. "It is going to be a tough series. It will be a test of the two batting groups," he said. "We have a bit of inexperience in our bowling group. The batting is far superior, for both units. They are pretty similar too. Bangladesh has a bit of youth in their bowling group. The two teams are evenly poised; it will be a good series to watch."
"You can't see many positives [in Sri Lanka] at the moment. It will be very good for us to take some positives back home. We want to keep inspiring the young generation of the country."
Naveed Nawaz
The Sri Lankan players are familiar with Bangladesh conditions, and among the current Test squad members, Dhananjaya de Silva and Kushal Mendis played in the Dhaka Premier League that ended in April.
"We will always rely on past experiences as a visitor to this country," Nawaz said. "We have a couple of players who are well-tuned to Bangladesh, who played in the Dhaka Premier League, BPL and various types of cricket here. There are some who played the last Test series here as well.
"We are very optimistic and open-minded about whatever that comes through. We will try to adapt as much as possible to conditions and pitches in Chittagong [Chattogram]. It has always produced a lot of runs, so we expect something similar."
The political situation in Sri Lanka has been quite turbulent in recent times, and though Nawaz said that the team's preparations had not been affected, a positive result in Bangladesh would certainly be welcome news for fans back home.
"So far I don't think it has affected us," he said. "Most of the cricketers are continuing to do their hard work. Their training has been ongoing for a couple of months. I didn't see an instance which affected the players.
"You can't see many positives [in Sri Lanka] at the moment. It will be very good for us to take some positives back home. We want to keep inspiring the young generation of the country."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84