Sri Lanka seek fresh start under Silverwood; Shakib available for Bangladesh

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—Bangladesh are thin on bowling attack sans Taskin and Mehidy in their first home Test of the year

(CRICINFO) A new Prime Minister in the country, a new cricket coach and a host of newcomers in the Test side. Sri Lanka, on and off the field, are making a new start, of sorts. They take on a Bangladesh side that is keen to restore some parity in 2022, where they have blown hot and cold, so far.

It will be Chris Silverwood’s first Test as Sri Lanka coach, and they have gone with a new approach by bringing in a host of youngsters. Kamil Mishara, Kamindu Mendis, Dilshan Madushanka and Suminda Lakshan are among eight changes in their Test squad, after their 2-0 blowout in India earlier this year.

They could put together a revamped top six, with Lahiru Thirimanne, Charith Asalanka and Pathum Nissanka out of the Test side. The pace attack too has to step up after Suranga Lakmal had retired after the previous series, and the board asking Lahiru Kumara and Dushmantha Chameera to focus on white-ball cricket.

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All these changes would put a lot of onus on Dimuth Karunaratne, their captain, and also, the highest run-scorer for Sri Lanka in the last two years. The likes of Kusal Mendis and Dhananjaya de Silva would bank on their recent experience in Bangladesh’s domestic competition. The left-arm spin duo of Lasith Embuldeniya and Praveen Jayawickrama will form their bowling arsenal against a home side that is doubting itself against spin recently.

Bangladesh’s scores of 53 and 80 against South Africa in the previous series have put them under immense pressure, going into their first home Test of this year. They have usually batted well in Chattogram. Shakib Al Hasan’s inclusion might be a bit of relief but whether he will be at his 100%, soon after recovering from Covid, has to be seen.

Mominul Haque has to find his form, end his lengthy run drought in Chattogram. As a captain, he will have tough decisions to make in his bowling attack, given Bangladesh are without their key bowlers Mehidy Hasan Miraz and Taskin Ahmed, and, Shakib’s bowling is unlikely to be in full capacity.

In the spotlight

Mahmudul Hasan Joy has already seen both sides of the coin in his first six months of international cricket. Starting with a duck, he impressed with a solid fifty in New Zealand and a century in South Africa, but then came the pair in Gqeberha, which exposed a bit of his weakness against moving outswinger.

His last Test century came more than two years ago, but Kusal Mendis is among runs. He struck an unbeaten first-class century in Hambantota, and another hundred in the Dhaka Premier League, Bangladesh’s premier one-day competition, a month ago. A solid knock in Sri Lanka’s top order will go probably set the tone of the Test series.

Team news

Shakib is likely to bat at No 7, but the big decision will be who replaces Mehidy Hasan Miraz. Mosaddek Hossain might be a safe choice at No 8, as he offers a bit of batting and can bowl 12-15 overs a day. Picking Nayeem Hasan or going with a three-man pace attack would be a bold move from a Bangladesh perspective.

Bangladesh (probable): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Mahmudul Hasan Joy, 3 Najmul Hossain Shanto, 4 Mominul Haque (capt), 5 Mushfiqur Rahim, 6 Litton Das (wk), 7 Shakib Al Hasan, 8 Nayeem Hasan/Mosaddek Hossain, 9 Taijul Islam, 10 Shoriful Islam, 11 Ebadot Hossain Sri Lanka will have to make at least three changes to the side that played the second Test against India in Bengaluru. They could drop Dinesh Chandimal to pick an extra bowling option in Ramesh Mendis or Chamika Karunaratne.

Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Dimuth Karunaratne (capt), 2 Oshada Fernando, 3 Kusal Mendis, 4 Angelo Mathews, 5 Dhananjaya de Silva, 6 Dinesh Chandimal/Ramesh Mendis, 7 Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 8 Lasith Embuldeniya, 9 Kasun Rajitha/Asitha Fernando, 10 Praveen Jayawickrama, 11 Vishwa Fernando



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