Expectant new look SL Test composition under Herath vs. Bangladesh

Sri Lanka’s two-match Test series against sub continent neighbours Bangladesh does take on a different air given the composition of the 15-member squad with spin veteran Rangana Herath once again handed the captaincy in the absence of injury sidelined regular captain Angelo Mathews. While Mathews’ recuperation will reportedly see the all-rounder out of action for three weeks, Herath once again taking over the reins as he did on the tour is interesting. With Dinesh Chandimal, who lost his place midway during the ODI series against South Africa due to poor form, interestingly named in the 15, the onus falls on Herath to carry the chips in a predictably challenging home tour against a highly resurgent Bangladesh.
Certainly the absence of Mathews is a handicap Herath and the rest will have to compensate for knowing the value input the former has brought to Sri Lanka cricket.

Accordingly, the current scenario is of tremendous expectancy in a changed outlook of several colts that have come on the blocks who will strive to make their cricketing dream come true. Of significance to the Sri Lankan crusade is the presence of veteran campaigner Upul Tharanga back with a bang from an ODI century against South Africa and his consistency with the bat in leading the T20 team to the preceding series triumph. His T20 captaincy performance has been an apparent plus factor to the recall of the 32-year old veteran of 25 Test outings in ousting regular opener Kaushal di Silva for the opening berth. He has a moderate aggregate of 1400 runs from 46 innings with a highest of 165. He is epected to beef up the batting upfront pairing with Dimuth Karunaratne back from an on trial reprieve that he came through with a double ton against England A in the unofficial second test match. Also buoying is the apparent cementing of Test places by wicket-keeper batsman Niroshan Dickwella and Asela Gunaratne as specialist batsmen, and as much the naming of the 29-year old spin cum utility player Malinda Pushpakumara. While Dickwella and Gunaratne literally nudged the selectors by some fine performances in the instant cricket in South Africa after being omitted for the Test series, Pushpakumara, the former Lumbini MV, Colombo and Chilaw Marians player has been in top form with the ball heading the domestic averages. His 13-wicket haul and match sealing boundary in Sri Lanka A’s win against England A in the second unofficial Test was high stuff at that level that has thrust him on the threshold of winning his national cap against Bangladesh for the first Test starting on March 7 at the Galle Esplanade.

All in all, the squad does carry a lineup of some promising youngsters along with a string of campaigners who have been around long enough to test Bangladesh to the extreme in favourable home conditions. An added dimension to the Sri Lankan official ranks is of course that former top campaigner, Asanka Gurusinha as manager Cricket for the National Team. It is a highly laudable choice by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) in getting the perfect blend at managerial level given Gurusinha’s tremendous services to Sri Lanka cricket.

Neighbours Bangladesh will be led by experienced batsman Mushfiqur Rahim in a composition that sees fast bowler Mustafizur Rahman recalled after a 2-year hiatus. The exchanges, that will also see three ODIs and two T20s, has already assumed fiery proportions with the visiting skipper Rahim having thrown the gauntlet in stating on his arrival that Bangladesh was confident of upsetting Sri Lanka in the absence of regular Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews. Test minnows, who top their 100th Test match against Sri Lanka on March 15, have indeed come a long way chalking up a string of Test wins mainly against Zimbabwe, and also defeating the West Indies, in their thrust to tasting the test series euphoria.

Sri Lanka Test squad:Rangana Herath (Captain), Dimuth Karunaratne, Niroshan Dickwella, Upul Tharanga, Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Mendis, Asela Gunaratne, Dinesh Chandimal, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Kumara, Nuwan Pradeep, Vikum Sanjaya Bandara, Dilruwan Perera, Lakshan Sandakan, Malinda Pushpakumara.

Bangladesh Test squad Mushfiqur Rahim (c), Tamim Iqbal, Liton Das, Soumya Sarkar, Mominul Haque, Shakib Al Hasan, Mahmudullah, Sabbir Rahman, Mustafizur Rahman, Taijul Islam, Mehedi Hasan, Taskin Ahmed, Mosaddek Hossain, Kamrul Islam Rabbi, Subashis Roy, Rubel Hossain.

Tour Manager – Ranjith Fernando, Heapd coach – Graham Ford, Physiotherapist – Ajantha Wattegama, Trainer – Nicholas Lee, Masseur – Lal Thamel, Performance analyst- Sriram Somayajula, Liaison officers – Chandra Rodrigo (Sri Lankan Team), Wasantha Ariyawickrama (B

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