Hosts Sri Lanka look set to extend their dominance over Bangladesh when they open a two-Test series at their happy hunting ground in Galle today.
Sri Lanka have won six and drawn one of their last eight Tests on the traditionally spin-friendly Galle wicket, and slow bowlers Rangana Herath and Ajantha Mendis are once again expected to play key roles.
Left-armer Herath grabbed 11 wickets in the last Test played in Galle in November to help Sri Lanka crush New Zealand by 10 wickets. The unorthodox Mendis, set to play a Test for the first time since May 2011, is a proven match-winner with 62 wickets in 16 Tests.
The hosts will be at full-strength, barring the injured Mahela Jayawardene, after resolving a pay dispute with Sri Lanka Cricket earlier this week. Sri Lanka’s batting has been bolstered by the return of veteran Kumar Sangakkara, who missed the third and final Test against Australia in January due to finger injury.
Sri Lanka go into the series under new captain Angelo Mathews with a 12-0 win record against Bangladesh, who will be without star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan due to calf injury.
Bangladesh have struggled at the Test level since their entry in 2000, losing 65 of their 75 matches so far, winning just three.
Captain Ashraful confident
But former captain Mohammad Ashraful was confident his side will put up a good show. “It doesn’t matter what happened in the past,” the middle-order batsman said. “Ours is a new side and Sri Lanka are also going through a transition. It should be a good contest.”
All-rounder Mohammad Mahmudullah said it was important for Bangladesh to start well in the Test. “Sri Lanka have the home advantage, so it is up to us to adapt quickly,” he said. “Like always, the first two sessions on day one will be crucial.”AFP