Bangladesh Test captain Mushfiqur Rahim believes his team has “a good chance” of an upset victory against Sri Lanka given the island nation’s current dearth of heavyweight players.
A 16-member squad will leave on Monday to play two Tests against the Sri Lankans—one in Galle from March 7 to 11 and another in Colombo, which starts on March 15 and will be Bangladesh’s 100th Test.
The teams are also scheduled to play three ODIs before facing off for two Twenty20 Internationals at the tail-end of the tour, which wraps up on April 6.
Sri Lanka has a good record at home, beating Australia 3-0 in the last series it hosted in August 2016. But the team will be without some of its star players during the Bangladesh tour following the retirements of Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Tillekaratne Dilshan and Muttiah Muralitharan.
Sangakkara, Jayawardene and Dilshan are the only players to have scored more than 1,000 Test runs against Bangladesh while off-spinner Muralitharan had claimed 89 wickets in 11 Tests.
“They (Sri Lanka) are going to miss some players who have been part of their team for many days. Regular captain Angelo Mathews is also absent,” Rahim said in Dhaka ahead of the team’s departure.
Skipper Angelo Mathews was ruled out of the Tests, even as selectors said they were preparing to field a “formidable team”. The Sri Lankan cricket board did not say why Mathews was dropped, but he returned home last month halfway through the South African tour after twisting his ankle.
Rahim also pointed to his side’s bowling variety. “We have three different types of bowlers in Shakib (Al Hasan), Mustafiz (Mustafizur Rahman) and Miraj (Mehedi Hasan). When they bowl together it would create pressure on any opponent,” he said.
He added that Bangladesh’s recent performance in Tests would also help. “They will remain under a little pressure because they know Bangladesh are also playing well for a long period. Considering all these factors, I would say we have a good chance,” he said.
Bangladesh drew its Test series against England in October at home. Although it lost its last two series in New Zealand and India, Bangladesh was able to stretch the matches to the fifth day.
“Everything will actually depend on how we can give our best. If we can give our best, I am sure the result will come in our favour,” Rahim said.
“I think in Tests, one-day internationals or Twenty20 internationals—whatever the format is—people now expect us to win,” he added.
Bangladesh has played 16 Tests against Sri Lanka, the highest for the nation against any opponent. But it could manage only two draws against the islanders in two previous series.