Bangladesh will fancy their chances against unsettled Sri Lanka
What makes the two-Test series between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh more than a contest on this occasion is because the input the opposition has about the hosts due to three former cricketers being present in their support staff.
One of them the key figure Chandika Hathurusingha is a former Sri Lanka cricketer and a former Sri Lanka ‘A’ team as well as senior team coach who is now the head coach of the Bangladesh side. His presence gives him access to the players, conditions and pitches that Sri Lanka will come up with against Bangladesh on the tour which could be a vital factor in determining the series.
Stand-in captain Rangana Herath well aware what is in store for them said, “Bangladesh have some advantage as they know our conditions and our players and all that. But this is a new game and at the end of the day it’s the team that plays well that wins.
They have some advantage no doubt. But as I said you have to play well. If you don’t play well you are not going to win. We have prepared as well as we could. I am sure they too have done the same.”
Having vital information of the opposition is nearly half the battle won and Bangladesh cricket which is on a high at the moment having beaten England in a Test match at home for the first time will fancy their chances against a Sri Lankan side that is still finding its feet at the moment with
an unsettled batting line up where the players are unaware of their positions going from one series to another.
For instance the openers slot sees a change from the last home series against Australia that Sri Lanka won so convincingly. There is no Kaushal Silva and his regular opening partner Dimuth Karunaratne saved his Test place with a double century in the second unofficial test against England Lions at Dambulla last month. Karunaratne will have another left-hander Upul Tharanga as his partner for this series.
In the 25 Test appearances Tharanga has made since making his debut 12 years ago, Bangladesh is one country that he has scored a Test century against – the other being against Zimbabwe. Tharanga has not opened in a Test since August 2015 against India at the SSC when he was dismissed for 4 and 5.
The no. 3 slot has become an enigma for Sri Lanka and Herath who will captain Sri Lanka in the two Tests in the absence of regular skipper Angelo Mathews (injured) said, “Maybe Kusal (Mendis). We haven’t decided on much.
We will wait for tomorrow morning to take a final call.”
Since making his Test debut against West Indies in October 2015, Mendis has batted from positions 2 to 5. Of the four occasions he has gone past the fifty mark three times he has batted at number four and that includes the series turning century of 176 against Australia.
Herath also stated that Dinesh Chandimal who has been the designated wicket-keeper in 24 of the 34 Tests he has played so far has been relieved from that position which will now be taken by Niroshan Dickwella who has kept wickets in three of the four Tests he has played.
That move is certainly not going to be a permanent one for according to Herath, “Whether we are going to stick with Chandi as wicketkeeper or move on with Niroshan needs to be spoken of. I need to talk to the selectors.”
Herath said the thinking behind the change of wicket-keeper is to give Chandimal who is expected to bat at number four more freedom to concentrate on his batting especially with Mathews being unavailable. The Lankan vice-captain came out of a lean patch with a stunning knock of 190 not out for Sri Lanka President’s XI against Bangladesh in the two-day warm-up match at Moratuwa.
Bangladesh is an opponent Chandimal has been prolific against scoring three of his seven Test hundreds including an unbeaten 116 at Galle in 2013 when Bangladesh last played here.
“Good to see guys like Dimuth and Chandi back in form. They have scored some big runs in the last couple of weeks and that’s important for the team,” said Herath.
“I am very happy leading the team into this Test series. The Bangladesh series is going to be tough. The guys I am sure are looking forward to do their best. I have lot of confidence in my team. We have been doing our training very well. We are confident.”
Even the position of Dhananajaya de Silva batting at number six is yet undecided.
“He has been batting at number six and we need to chat to the selectors and sort out where he needs to play. Dhananjaya most probably will bat below Chandimal at number six,” said Herath.
In that event the Lankan batting will read as: Karunaratne, Tharanga, Mendis, Chandimal, Gunaratne, De Silva and Dickwella, Herath will head the bowling along with Suranga Lakmal and Lahiru Kumara for pace, but the second spinner will be a toss-up between Lakshan Sandakan and Dilruwan Perera.