'It will be a tough series'
To the Bangladesh team and their fans, Galle may have special significance as the place where, in March 2013, the Tigers truly hit their strides and dominated a draw against Sri Lanka for the first time in contests between the two teams. But for the home side in today's first Test at the Galle International Stadium, that memory hardly exists as only one member of the 2013 side will take the field today. For Sri Lanka skipper Rangana Herath, a more important moment was winning the following match in Colombo and thereby taking the series.
“Last time we played against Bangladesh in Galle, they scored some runs and we scored some runs as well,” said Herath, who is leading the hosts in absence of the injured Angelo Mathews. “Mushfiqur [Rahim] scored 200 and [Mohammad] Ashraful scored 190. But later in the Colombo Test we played really well and won the match. Even that confidence I have with my team at the moment.”
What modesty may have prevented him from mentioning is that in the Colombo Test, it was his lethal left-arm spin that produced a 12-wicket haul and condemned Bangladesh to a seven-wicket defeat. Four years later in a Sri Lankan team in rebuilding mode, Herath remains the constant threat, especially in home Tests. In Galle, the left-arm spinner has eight five-wicket and three 10-wicket hauls in 15 Tests.
But that is not to say that this Sri Lanka team is a one-man show. Upul Tharanga is a threat at the top of the order while Dinesh Chandimal has rediscovered his form with a 190 in the tour match against Bangladesh.
Regarding the challenge from Bangladesh, the stand-in skipper said: “I said before departing for Zimbabwe that it will be a challenging series. And this time, against Bangladesh, the challenge will be the same. It will be a tough series. But I am sure the guys will do their best and I am really confident in my team.
“I am sure the Bangladeshi spinners will come up with good plans and will do well as they have the off-spinner [Mehedi Hasan Miraz], Shakib [Al Hasan] and Taijul [Islam].
“They will have an advantage as they have Sri Lankans in the coaching staff because they know the condition well and also know our players' strengths and weaknesses. But this will be a new game. So we have to get on with that. The team who will play better cricket will win the match in the end.”