Sri Lanka vs Bangladesh 1st Test Preview: Mercurial teams eye consistency in context-less series
While Sri Lanka will miss the services of Lasith Embuldeniya and Kasun Rajitha due to injuries, Shakib Al Hasan and Mustafizur Rahman are unavailable for Bangladesh due to IPL commitments.
LIVE - Sri Lanka vs Bangladesh 1st Test
Both teams search for consistency
With the finalists of the World Test Championship already decided, there is not much that Sri Lanka or Bangladesh can gain in the bigger scheme of things. However, they will look to get their combinations right in order to give the other teams a run for their money in the next WTC cycle.
Both Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are far from settled in the five-day format and are highly unpredictable and fickle as a result of it. Sri Lanka have had some serious wins over the last few years but more often than not, such performances have been followed by batting collapses, which have not held the team in good stead.
Sri Lanka's form and key players
It was a shame for Sri Lanka when they suffered a whitewash in a test series against England at home, with their batting line up collapsing twice against no extraordinary English attack.
However, the team showed tenacity and determination in their recently concluded test series against West Indies, where they were able to draw both the matches and put in some commendable batting performances.
Lahiru Thirimanne, who has been a work in progress for a long time now, finally came good against West Indies, scoring 249 runs from 4 innings at an average of 60. Oshada Fernando and Pathum Nissanka also chipped in with 179 and 163 runs. Wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella also scored 148 runs at an average of 49.33.
Among their bowlers, Suranga Lakmal was consistent as ever, picking up 11 wickets at 21.45 with the help of one 4-fer and one 5-fer.
Bangladesh's form and key players
Bangladesh suffered a shocker at home, losing a two match test series 0-2 against West Indies despite being in winning positions in both the matches. That led to a lot of scrutiny and if Bangladesh do not get their act together in this series, there will certainly be a few tough calls taken.
In the series against West Indies, Liton Das was the top scorer for Bangladesh with 200 runs at an average of 50. Mehidy Hasan is gradually growing into a bankable all-rounder and scored 198 runs in the series apart from picking up 10 wickets at 26.10. Skipper Mominul Haque made 188 runs at an average of 47.
Taijul Islam was the team's leading wicket taker in the series with 12 scalps at 26.58 with the help of two 4-wicket hauls. Nayeem Hasan and Abu Jayed also picked up 6 wickets each.
Bangladesh have been weakened by the absence of Shakib Al Hasan who is unavailable for the test series as he is taking part in the IPL currently. Shakib is brilliant as a test all rounder and his proficiency with both bat and ball plays a major role in Bangladesh's success.
In his absence, the team has added batting all-rounder Shuvagata Hom to the squad. This also presents an opportunity for Mehidy Hasan to grow into a proper all-rounder.
Bangladesh have included Taskin Ahmed, Khaled Ahmed, Ebadat Hossain and Abu Jayed in the squad apart from the uncapped Mukidul Islam, Shohidul Islam and Shoriful Islam. It will be interesting to track the performances of this pace-bowling unit who has been training hard under Bangladesh's High-Performance Unit bowling coach Champaka Ramanayke.
In the absence of Lasith Embuldeniya, Sri Lanka will expect Lakshan Sandakan to rise to the occasion in the spin department alongside all-rounder Dhananjaya de Silva. One of Vishwa Fernando or Wanindu Hasaranga will play depending on the pitch and overhead conditions in Pallekele.
Let's have a look at the probable playing XIs:
Sri Lanka - Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Lahiru Thirimanne, Oshada Fernando, Dinesh Chandimal, Dhananjaya de Silva, Pathum Nissanka, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera, Lakshan Sandakan, Vishwa Fernando/Wanindu Hasaranga
Bangladesh - Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Mominul Haque (c), Mushfiqur Rahim, Mohammad Mithun, Liton Das (wk), Mehidy Hasan, Taskin Ahmed, Taijul Islam, Abu Jayed
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