Host Bangladesh are ready to face the tough challenge against visiting Sri Lanka when the two sides lock horn with each other in the first of two Test matches in the port city’s Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Cricket Stadium Wednesday. The Test gets underway at 9:30am.
Bangladesh are missing ace all-rounder Shakib al Hasan after he injured himself during the tri-nation ODI series final. Now skipper Mahmudullah will lead the side for the first time in his career. He will become the 10th Bangladesh Test captain in history when he heads out for the toss. The absence of Shakib in the playing XI means one less world-class spinner and a genuine batsman but stand-in captain Mahmudullah believes the team have enough capable players to handle the pressure and produce good result.
“Obviously Shakib is a very important player in our team. It is a big loss for us as Shakib is injured and out of the Test. But you have to go ahead accepting all the challenges. I think if we can execute our decisions positively, we will have a good game,” Mahmudullah said during the pre-Test press conference Tuesday.
Bangladesh lost the tri-series final and batting in the last three ODIs of that series was not upto the mark. But Mahmudullah believes Test cricket is a different ball game altogether and that Bangladesh need to play session by session against a challenging Sri Lanka side.
“Tri-series is over. It is a different format and situation. We have to play session by session in a Test. Let’s not think about the ODIs,” he said.
The pitch at ZACCS is likely to help the spinners from day one and Bangladesh have plenty of slow bowlers in their squad. Veteran Abdur Razzak has been included in the squad as Shakib is out injured. Bangladesh may field three spinners in their playing XI, along with seven batsmen and a pacer.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka also have injury concern of their own as all-rounder Angelo Mathews will not play the first Test, confirmed captain Dinesh Chandimal.
Sri Lanka are confident after winning the tri- series and also have a world-class spinner in their rank, in the form of Rangana Herath. Chandimal believes Herath could be the deciding factor in the game.
“Herath is a wily old fox. He can do what he wants to do. He is a big asset in our team. We hope he is going to do his basics right. We will play competitive cricket rather than thinking about the result. It will be challenging for Bangladesh,” said Chandimal.
“It has been a really good ODI series apart from the first two games. When you lose the first two games, it gives you more morale and focus going forward. This is a new format and we have experienced bowlers in our side –Herath and Dilruwan Perera. This will be a great series for both teams,” he added.
Head to head
Tests - 18
Wins - Bangladesh (1), Sri Lanka (15)
Draws - 2
Win % - Bangladesh (5.55), Sri Lanka (83.33)
Most runs - Mohammad Ashraful (Bangladesh, 1090), Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka, 1806)
Highest score - Mushfiqur Rahim (Bangladesh, 200), Sangakkara (319)
Most wickets - Shakib al Hasan (Bangladesh, 29), Muttiah Muralidaran (Sri Lanka, 89)
Best bowling - Shakib (5/70), Rangana Herath (Sri Lanka, 7/89)