‘Thinking only about cricket’
For both Bangladesh and hosts Sri Lanka, the importance of winning the upcoming three-match ODI series between the sides was made clear during the grand pre-series press conference at the Taj Samudra Hotel in Colombo yesterday. The captains and coaches of the two teams were present alongside the secretary of Sri Lanka Cricket at the event.
A series win would mark a strong comeback for both Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, who endured rather disappointing campaigns in the just concluded ICC Cricket World Cup in the United Kingdom. However, from Sri Lanka's point of view, this series bears a special significance as the island nation hopes to overcome the deadly Easter Sunday (April 21) bombings earlier this year which shook the entire nation.
Bangladesh, being the first team to tour Sri Lanka following the attack, is being appreciated deeply by the Sri Lankan cricket board as well as the people of the country.
Tigers' stand-in skipper Tamim Iqbal did well to rouse the Sri Lankan media after arriving in the country.
"Everybody was really positive (to tour Sri Lanka) and looked forward to come here. Not many years ago we were in a pretty similar situation. Sri Lanka was the one team who came to our country and we had a beautiful series that time. We have been looked after really well security wise along with all the facilities and there is nothing aside from cricket that we are thinking about at the moment," Tamim said during his opening speech to much applause from the audience yesterday.
On the other hand, there were some more critical questions for incumbent Sri Lanka head coach Chandika Hathurusingha, who was repeatedly asked whether or not he will quit his job after the series after the Sri Lankan Sports minister publicly stated that they need to change the coaching staff following their World Cup failure.
Bangladesh are without regular skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, who was ruled out in the last moment due to a hamstring injury, while the outstanding performer of the World Cup, Shakib Al Hasan, will also miss out as he had earlier asked for a leave.
According to Tamim however, he does not want to focus on an individual who is not with the team at the moment and rather backed the 14-members present in the side to prove their worth.
"The players who were picked for the team all are capable and I really don't want to talk about someone who is not in the team at the moment. He has done fantastically well for Bangladesh but he is not here with the team so let's not talk about him as I got another 14 players and they all are capable," he said.
Bangladesh will take part in a practice match against the SLC XI today at the P Sara Oval, where according to Tamim, the team management will look to form the best possible combination for the first ODI on July 26.