Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will both be looking to move up the ICC World Test Championship standings when they face off in Pallekele.
Sri Lanka vs Bangladesh, 1st Test
Pallekele Stadium, Pallekele
21-25 April, 10am local
Sri Lanka and Bangladesh sit eighth and ninth respectively on the ICC WTC ladder. Dimuth Karunaratne’s team have picked up 20 per cent of the points available to them so far, while Mominul Haque’s side are yet to get off the mark.
A 2-0 series win for Bangladesh would see them leapfrog Sri Lanka to eighth, as would a 1-0 result featuring a tied match.
A 2-0 win for Sri Lanka would see them draw level with sixth-placed West Indies, having collected 33.33 per cent of the points available to them across the tournament.
Sri Lanka started their WTC campaign on a positive note in August 2019, beating New Zealand by six wickets. But results have dried up for the Sri Lankans since then, with that victory their lone win in the WTC so far.
After a win, a loss and a draw across their first three WTC matches, Sri Lanka lost five straight matches to slide down the standings.
However, they ended their losing streak last month, drawing both Tests against the West Indies in Antigua. It was a campaign that had plenty of positives for the touring team.
Veteran seamer Suranga Lakmal was named Player of the Series for his 11 wickets at 21.45, while Lahiru Thirimanne (240 runs at 60.00), Oshada Fernando (179 at 59.66) and Niroshan Dickwella (49.33) all impressed with the bat. The most encouraging thing for Sri Lanka from the tour was the rise of Pathum Nissanka (163 at 54.33), who scored a century on debut and passed 50 in two of his three innings.
It has been a torrid WTC for Bangladesh and they will be keen to end a run of five consecutive WTC Test defeats when they walk out on Wednesday.
The two most recent losses, in February against the West Indies, were both tight affairs. Hosting the Caribbean side, Bangladesh suffered a three-wicket defeat in the first Test before losing the second by 17 runs.
The 2-0 series loss did still show the Tigers they have plenty to work with. Liton Das (200 at 50) and Mominul Haque (188 runs at 47) both enjoyed fine series with the bat, while Abu Jayed (six wickets at 21.66) and Taijul Islam (12 wickets at 26.58) impressed with the ball. Spinner Mehidy Hasan Miraz shone in both departments, scoring 198 runs at 49.50 and taking 10 wickets at 26.10.
If they can replicate those performances this month, they should push Sri Lanka all the way.
Look out for
Mehidy Hasan Miraz: The right-arm off-spinner was Bangladesh’s standout player against the West Indies as he took his batting to the next level while still having an impact with the ball. He was at his best in the first match, scoring a century and taking eight wickets, and backed it up with a fifty in the second Test.
Pathum Nissanka: He’s only 22 years old, but by the time Nissanka played his first Test for Sri Lanka he had already been banging on the door for selection for years. The right-hander took to Test cricket with ease last month and you can expect him to thrive in home conditions. Across 55 first-class innings in Sri Lanka, he averages 73.06, with 13 centuries in that time.
Remember last time
Bangladesh are chasing their first Test series win over Sri Lanka, having suffered defeats in eight of the nine series they have played against them. In 2017, the last time they played Tests in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh managed a 1-1 draw and they will be hoping to go one better this time around.
The last time these two sides met in Test cricket was in Bangladesh in 2018 – a two-match series won 1-0 by Sri Lanka.
The first Test was a high-scoring draw featuring five centuries, including one in each innings from Mominul. Ball dominated bat in the second Test as Sri Lanka pulled off a comfortable 215-run victory.
Dimuth Karunaratne (capt), Lahiru Thirimanne, Oshada Fernando, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Pathum Nissanka, Dhananjaya De Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Roshen Silva, Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Ramesh Mendis, Praveen Jayawickrama, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Kumara, Vishwa Fernando, Dilshan Madushanka, Asitha Fernando
Bangaldesh (first Test)
Mominul Haque (capt), Liton Das, Mohammad Mithun, Mushfiqur Rahim, Tamim Iqbal, Shadman Islam, Abu Jayed, Taijul Islam, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Mehidy Hassan, Taskin Ahmed, Ebadat Hossain, Saif Hassan, Yasir Ali, Shoriful Islam
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