Saturday, March 08, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, March 06, 2013
|Test Series Preview: Bangladesh in Sri Lanka 2013|
After an eventful 2012, one of most successful years in Bangladesh’s cricketing history, the Tigers head to Sri Lanka to play their first series of 2013. Expectations are high following a successful home series against the West Indies and an eventful BPL 2, which saw many Bangladeshi players shine in comparison to the first edition of the tournament. Sri Lanka is also a team in transition with a new captain and a young group of players, many of whom are yet to prove themselves at the highest level. On top of that, Sri Lanka will also be missing the services of their two most experienced stalwarts, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumara Sangakkara*, through injury. This explains why Mushfiqur Rahim exuded so much confidence before leaving Bangladesh for Sri Lanka; despite missing Shakib, chronic injury problems and last minute squad changes.
Sri Lanka, too, was rocked by a last minute crisis. Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) decided it would 'freeze' 23 of its top players, should they refuse to agree to their new contractual terms. This would mean Sri Lanka would have to field a totally new set of players, putting the Test series in jeopardy. Fortunately, the players decided to put their country first and sign the contract. But all this drama, less than a week before the first Test match, not only unsettled the team but also seriously affected their match preparation. So, a new captain, young, unproven players, the unavailability of Sangakara and Mahela, poor morale due to contract disputes, a lack of match preparation: ancient Chinese military general Sun Tzu would say that these are ideal conditions for Bangladesh to strike. But can Bangladesh really step up and create history?
Bangladesh Vs Sri Lanka In Tests
Bangladesh has a miserable test record against Sri Lanka. Since Bangladesh received its test status in 2000, the two teams met 12 times in Tests - 8 matches in Sri Lanka and 4 in Bangladesh. Bangladesh has lost all 12 of these matches, 8 of them by an innings. While Bangladesh has managed to put up resistance against other test playing nations, it has always been one-sided encounters against Sri Lanka, with very little improvement over the years. Sri Lanka has been particularly severe in its home matches. Can Bangladesh change the trend in 2013?
2001, Asian Test Championship, Sri Lanka
2nd Match: Sri Lanka v Bangladesh at Colombo (SSC) - Sep 6-8, 2001
Bangladesh 90 and 328; Sri Lanka 555/5d Sri Lanka won by an innings and 137 runs
2002, Bangladesh Tour Of Sri Lanka
1st Test: Sri Lanka v Bangladesh at Colombo (PSS) - Jul 21-23, 2002
Bangladesh 161 and 184; Sri Lanka 541/9d Sri Lanka won by an innings and 196 runs
2nd Test: Sri Lanka v Bangladesh at Colombo (SSC) - Jul 28-31, 2002
Sri Lanka 373 and 263/2d; Bangladesh 164 and 184 Sri Lanka won by 288 runs
2005, Bangladesh Tour Of Sri Lanka
1st Test: Sri Lanka v Bangladesh at Colombo (RPS) - Sep 12-14, 2005
Bangladesh 188 and 86; Sri Lanka 370/9d Sri Lanka won by an innings and 96 runs
2nd Test: Sri Lanka v Bangladesh at Colombo (PSS) - Sep 20-22, 2005
Sri Lanka 457/9d; Bangladesh 191 and 197 (f/o) Sri Lanka won by an innings and 69 runs
2006, Sri Lanka Tour Of Bangladesh
1st Test: Bangladesh v Sri Lanka at Chittagong - Feb 28-Mar 3, 2006
Bangladesh 319 and 181; Sri Lanka 338 and 163/2 Sri Lanka won by 8 wickets
2nd Test: Bangladesh v Sri Lanka at Bogra - Mar 8-11, 2006
Sri Lanka 457/9d; Bangladesh 191 and 197 (f/o) Sri Lanka won by an innings and 69 runs
2007, Bangladesh Tour Of Sri Lanka
1st Test: Sri Lanka v Bangladesh at Colombo (SSC) - Jun 25-28, 2007
Bangladesh 89 and 254; Sri Lanka 577/6d Sri Lanka won by an innings and 234 runs
2nd Test: Sri Lanka v Bangladesh at Colombo (PSS) - Jul 3-5, 2007
Bangladesh 62 and 299; Sri Lanka 451/6d Sri Lanka won by an innings and 90 runs
3rd Test: Sri Lanka v Bangladesh at Kandy - Jul 11-14, 2007
Bangladesh 131 and 176; Sri Lanka 500/4d Sri Lanka won by an innings and 193 runs
2008-09, Sri Lanka Tour of Bangladesh
1st Test: Bangladesh v Sri Lanka at Dhaka - Dec 26-31, 2008
Sri Lanka 293 and 405/6d; Bangladesh 178 and 413 Sri Lanka won by 107 runs
2nd Test: Bangladesh v Sri Lanka at Chittagong - Jan 3-6, 2009
Sri Lanka 384 and 447/6d; Bangladesh 208 and 158 Sri Lanka won by 465 runs
Bangladesh Recent Away Form
Bangladesh’s last away test match was against Zimbabwe in 2011 which it lost by 130 runs. Prior to this, they were beaten in a two-match series in England in 2010 by 2-0, the first by 8 wickets and the second by an innings and 80 runs. It’s no secret that Bangladesh is not as competitive when playing away from home. Sri Lanka has never been a happy hunting ground. Bangladesh’s most recent series in Sri Lanka in 2007 was one of its worst tours in its short cricketing history.
Sri Lanka Recent Home Form
Sri Lanka is a team known to be very hard to crack at home. In the recent past, they have had mixed home results. A narrow series win against an in-form Pakistan was followed by a surprise 1-1 draw against New Zealand in November 2012.
Bangladesh should draw inspiration from New Zealand''s memorable win against Sri Lanka in Colombo. It was a remarkable team performance which saw a dogged effort from the Kiwi batsmen, complemented by persistent and penetrative seam bowling. The likes of Southee, Bracewell and Boult constantly attacked the stumps and rarely gave away anything loose or short. Sri Lankans were made to play at everything and eventually, they were bundled out under the pressure.
Right after that, Sri Lanka also lost three test matches in Australia. So, they have lost their last four test matches and head into the Bangladesh series with a new captain and unsettled players. Again, there has never been a better time for Bangladesh to strike.
In recent times, Sri Lanka has tried to develop true wickets which have something for everyone - batsmen, spinners and pacers. Gone are the days where they would solely depend on turning tracks, where guys like Muralitharan would come and give them the upper hand. The wickets in both Galle and Premadasa are likely to test the Bangladeshi batsmen, with bounce, pace and turn. It must be mentioned that New Zealand relied on their pace attack to defeat Sri Lanka. In Galle and Premadasa, teams winning the toss usually prefer to bat first while the wicket is fresh.
Bangladesh Squad: Mushfiqur Rahim (Captain), Mahmudullah (Vice Captain), Tamim Iqbal, Mohammad Ashraful, Anamul Haque, Marshall Ayub, Nasir Hossain, Sohag Gazi, Abul Hasan, Rubel Hossain, Elias Sunny, Jahurul Islam, Mominul Hoque, Shahadat Hossain, Robiul Islam
Sri Lanka Squad: Angelo Mathews (capt), Dinesh Chandimal (vice-capt, wicketkeeper), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kumar Sangakkara*, Lahiru Thirimanne, Shaminda Eranga, Kushal Janith Perera, Jeevan Mendis, Kithuruwan Vithanage, Ajantha Mendis, Nuwan Kulasekara, Chanaka Welegedera, Suranga Lakmal, Rangana Herath, Tharindu Kaushal
Bangladesh Possible Eleven & Strategy
Bangladesh will probably opt for six batsmen and four bowlers. If Tamim Iqbal recovers, he is likely to open with one of Jahurul/Anamul. Mahmudullah, Nasir and Mushfiq are the other guaranteed selections. The think tank has to choose from Ashraful, Marshall Ayub and Mominul for the other two slots. Bangladesh may be tempted to field three pacers due to the sporting nature of the wicket. Should Bangladesh decide to play two spinners by adding Elias Sunny, Rubel Hossain and Abul Hasan are likely to get the nod.
If Bangladesh wins the toss, they should bat first and try to bat for a minimum of one and a half days. It would be best if they could bat two whole days. If they bat second they should try to drag the game deep into day three or day four. This means they must refrain from their natural aggressive game, look to occupy the crease for as long as possible and build partnerships. They should not be tempted to go after the short and wide deliveries, as there will be enough bounce and carry to trouble them. A minimum first innings score of 300-350 will keep Bangladesh in the fight. Bangladesh has been woeful in the first innings in the past, scoring less than 200 frequently, allowing Sri Lanka to finish off the game in one innings. Rubel and Abul should watch highlights of how Southee & co bowled: it is essential they bowl in the right areas, build pressure and don’t give away any freebies. Spin will also play a role, particularly as the game progresses. Ajmal, Hafeez and Abdur Rehman had plenty of success when Pakistan played Sri Lanka recently.
Bangladesh Players To Look Out For
Anamul Haque: Bangladesh’s boy wonder will be playing his first ever test. Anamul is one of those rare Bangladeshi batsmen who can occupy the crease and play a long innings. He has already proven himself in first class cricket, averaging in the mid 40’s. Bangladesh will hope that this immensely talented 20 year old will lay the foundation for a big score.
Sohag Gazi: In a short period of time, young Gazi has established himself as one of Bangladesh’s most important bowlers. With a raw pace attack and no Enamul Jnr or Shakib, the wily off spinner will be expected to bowl a lot of overs and will certainly be amongst the wickets.
Sri Lanka Possible Eleven, Strategy
It is difficult to predict Sri Lanka’s eleven given the last minute drama and the fact there are so many new faces. Sri Lanka’s big decision would be whether it wishes to play two or three specialist pacers. Three pacers could rule out the possibility of playing Ajantha Mendis. In such scenario, an all-rounder like Jeevan Mendis will play the role of the second spinner. Sri Lanka could also opt for two pacers and two spinners, with Mathews being an option as pacer number three. Finally Sri Lanka could go 'gung ho' with three pacers and two spinners, but this will mean they have to play with a long tail.
Sri Lankan batsmen are masters in their own backyard. While they will not hesitate to punish any loose deliveries, they will wait for the Bangladeshi bowlers to tire in the hot, humid, sultry conditions. Once the initial kick and energy of the Bangladeshi bowlers diminishes, Sri Lankan batsmen will pounce and try to score enough in their first innings to win the match without having to bat again. Sri Lankan pace bowlers will be tempted to test the Bangladeshi batsmen with the short stuff. The pitches will definitely work in their favor. If that doesn’t work, Sri Lanka will revert to their potent spin options. One can assume Bangladeshi batsmen would be comfortable against left arm spin, but playing Herath is a totally different ball game. Ajantha Mendis would be another menace, should Sri Lanka decide to pick him.
Sri Lanka Players To Look Out For
Dinesh Chandimal: What Virat Kohli is to India, Chandimal is to Sri Lanka. The highly talented 23 year old is likely to continue in Mahela and Sangakarra's footsteps as the country’s premier batsman. This is his first opportunity to demonstrate his importance to the team in the absence of the two legends.
Rangana Herath: In all the past serieses against Sri Lanka, Muralitharan made a big difference, harassing our batsmen with his wizardry. This time there is no Murali but Sri Lanka have a very accomplished successor in Herath. The 34 year old was the highest wicket taker in tests in 2012, above both Ajmal and Swann. Bangladeshi batsmen will have to be at their best to tackle him.
Expectations & Prediction-Bangladeshi Perspective
Bangladesh must not get carried away with their recent form and development. Sure they did well against the West Indies and in the BPL, but this is a totally different challenge. They must not think too much about the end but rather focus on playing session by session. They must think of each session as a mini-battle, which they must win to gain confidence and momentum. This must try to push the game to the fifth day, which opens the possibility of any of the three possible outcomes.
Sri Lanka will be very tough opponent in their home condition. Despite the drama, despite the lack of match preparation and despite the new faces, they are expected to dominate and win. The newcomers and emerging stars will all be hungry to prove themselves at the highest level. The truth is, these youngsters have the ability to outplay us, despite their lack of experience. See how young Kithuruwan Vithanage took out our bowling in the tour match.
Considering the history of this match-up and the difference in quality between the sides, Bangladeshi fans should be extremely happy with a draw. They should be happy even if Bangladesh loses but fights until day five. Anything more than that would be miracle! But like they say, cricket is a funny game - on a given day anything can happen.
* Sangakkara was included in the team in the last minute. However his selection in the final eleven is uncertain given his recovery from injury
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