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Cricket news - Bangladesh hope to re-rail Test fortunes in Sri Lanka

Mominul Haque has put the onus on the batting unit to deliver results.

Mominul Haque has put the onus on the batting unit to deliver results.

March 19, 2017 was a momentous day in Bangladesh Cricket. After nine series (including the Asian Test Championship), they managed their maiden Test win against Sri Lanka. What made the victory even sweeter was that they were playing their 100th Test and all their experienced heads got together and put in a collective show to pull off a special win which also helped Bangladesh draw their first ever series against Sri Lanka. Later in the same year, they even drew a series against Australia at home and things were finally falling in place for Bangladesh cricket as far as their Test cricket was concerned.

It's been over four years since that historic win and Bangladesh once again are on Sri Lankan shores. But their Test cricket stride has been a case of a step forward and several back. In the last three years, they have played 15 Test matches and have won only four times - two wins apiece against Zimbabwe and West Indies. They enter this series on the back of eight successive losses across formats, including a 0-2 blanking at the hands of West Indies in the Test series at home. And they will have to do without the services of Shakib Al Hasan and Mustafizur Rahman, both of whom had been key figures in Bangladesh series-levelling win against Sri Lanka back in 2017.

Meanwhile, hosts Sri Lanka will be pretty confident going into this series. Despite Test series losses to South Africa (away) and England (home), they are coming off a drawn series against West Indies in the Caribbean, with quite a lot of positives emerging from that series. Suranga Lakmal essayed the role of lead pacer with aplomb while Pathum Nissanka and Oshada Fernando fared well with the bat. Sri Lanka, with a good mix of experienced players and youngsters eager to shore up their Test credentials, are favourites taking on a Bangladesh side that has been rattled by recent results, with the coach also under scrutiny.

Context-wise, this series has hardly got anything to offer in a T20 WC year, other than an opportunity for the two teams to end the current cycle of World Test Championship on a positive note.

When:April 21-25 at 10:00 AM Local Time

Where: Pallekele International Cricket Stadium

What to expect: The last two matches played at this venue have ended in losses for the hosts, with India and then England registering victories. While spinners usually dominate in the games played in Sri Lanka, the Pallekele wicket has offered the seamers also some help in the past. Thunderstorms are forecast on some of the days.

Team news:

Sri Lanka

With Lasith Embuldeniya ruled out of the series due to an injury he picked up in the Caribbean, the onus will be on the likes of Wanindu Hasaranga, Lakshan Sandakan and Dhananjaya de Silva to handle the spin responsibilities. Dushmantha Chameera isn't part of the squad due to personal reasons while uncapped left-arm spinner Praveen Jayawickrama is an option available for the hosts. Sri Lanka will have the services of Angelo Mathews for this series, with the experienced cricketer back in the team after pulling out of the West Indies tour midway due to personal reasons. Lahiru Kumara is also back, having missed the West Indies series after testing positive for COVID-19.

Squad: Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lahiru Thirimanne, Niroshan Dickwella, Asitha Fernando, Oshada Fernando, Vishwa Fernando, Praveen Jayawickrama, Lahiru Kumara, Suranga Lakmal, Dilshan Madushanka, Ramesh Mendis, Pathum Nissanka, Dasun Shanaka, Roshen Silva

Bangladesh

With Soumya Sarkar not part of the squad, Tamim Iqbal is likely to be partnered by Shadman Islam at the top of the order. Saif Hasan, who batted well in the practice game, might come in at No. 3. Bangladesh are unsure about the inclusion of a third pacer in the eleven and will take a final call after looking at the pitch. Bangladesh named a pruned 15-member squad a day before the first Test, which included the uncapped duo of Shoriful Islam and Yasir Ali while Mukidul Islam, Shohidul Islam, Khaled Ahmed, Shuvagoto Hom, Nurul Hasan and Nayeem Hasan were excluded.

Squad: Mominul Haque (c), Liton Das, Mohammad Mithun, Mushfiqur Rahim, Tamim Iqbal, Shadman Islam, Abu Jayed, Taijul Islam, Najmul Hossain, Mehidy Hasan, Taskin Ahmed, Ebadot Hossain, Saif Hasan, Yasir Ali, Shoriful Islam.

What they said:

"I'm under no pressure whatsoever, and the same goes for my team. We have come here to win matches, so we are going to give our all to do that. Obviously, Sri Lanka is a very good team and we couldn't do well in our last two Test matches. But still, we aren't considering looking in the rearview mirror" - Mominul Haque, Bangladesh captain.