Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, two teams desperate to get back to winning ways, are locking horns at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in Kandy today in the first of two Tests. Both teams have been winless for quite a while in Test cricket and will look to make amends in this series.
Bangladesh are yet to get off the mark in the World Test Championship and this series will be their last chance to finish off on a high. On the other hand, after two losses at home against England and two draws against the West Indies, the hosts will be keen not to let the chance of beating Bangladesh slip away.
Mominul hints at pace heavy line-up
Bangladesh have traditionally been a team heavily reliant on spin bowling. But Bangladesh skipper Mominul Haque said that Bangladesh will go into the test match with a bowling line-up that will feature more pace bowlers. The wicket has a nice covering of grass but most expect that it won't be the same in the match. Bangladesh skipper believes that the pitch will assist the fast bowlers and probably that's the reason why there are only two frontline spinners in the 15-men final squad.
Saif or Shadman- who to partner Tamim?
Shadman Islam, the left-handed opening batter, played the two-match Test series against the West Indies ahead of Saif Hassan. The southpaw scored a hard-fought fifty in the second Test. On the other hand, Saif Hassan had a superb series against Ireland Wolves and did really well in the National Cricket League (NCL). Saif got a half-century in the two-day intra-squad match prior to the series. With only two spinners in the squad, Saif can also be a handy bowling option as he had reasonable success with the ball of late and that only strengthens his case.
Mominul's overseas form a concern
Mominul Haque is a vital cog in the wheel for Bangladesh. He is a prolific run-getter in Tests at home but his records away from home is poor. His overseas average of 22.3 is the third-lowest among the batters batting at top-six post-war. But the southpaw loves playing Sri Lanka and averages a decent 54.4 against them. Now the skipper of the side, Mominul will be determined to better his overseas record with the bat.
Mathews returns for SL, Embuldeniya misses out
Angelo Mathews, who missed out against the West Indies due to personal reasons, has returned to the Sri Lanka team. But Bangladesh will be relieved to see Lasith Embuldeniya miss the series. The left-arm spinner has been a tremendous performer for Sri Lanka since his debut. Uncapped spinner Praveen Jayawickrama will replace him. Sri Lanka will miss the services of speedster Dushmantha Chameera, but they still have a formidable pace attack to challenge the opposition.
Recent records will encourage Bangladesh
Sri Lanka have won 16 of the 20 matches they played against Bangladesh but the recent records suggest that Bangladesh have been a much-improved side. Bangladesh have won one and drawn three out of the last eight Tests against Sri Lanka. The visitors will miss the services of Shakib Al Hasan who has a good record against Sri Lanka.
Bangladesh have never played a Test match at Pallekele but the records will encourage them. Out of seven Test matches played here, Sri Lanka have won just one and lost three matches.
Uncapped fast bowler Shoriful Islam has been called up to the squad. The left-arm pacer has played only eight first-class games and picked up 22 wickets. With no left-arm seamer other than him in the squad, Bangladesh might be tempted to hand him a debut. But the visiting side is more likely to go with their tried and tested pacers.