Herath & Rahim's appraoch to leadership will be interesting to see during the series © Getty Images
Herath & Rahim’s approach to leadership will be interesting to see during the series © Getty Images

Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are set to renew rivalry in the longest format when they take on each other in the first of the two-match Test series starting Tuesday at the Galle International Stadium in Galle, Sri Lanka. Both the sides are coming off heavy defeats in Test cricket, and this series will provide an ideal opportunity to bounce back and improve their record. Bangladesh have never won a Test against Sri Lanka, and they will be chasing that elusive win in this short series. In the 16 Tests the two sides have played so far, the Lankans have won 14 while two have ended as draws. The hosts, at the same time, shall look to extend the record. Full cricket Scorecard: Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka, 1st Test at Galle International Stadium, Galle

Sri Lanka, who had a disastrous South African safari, will be without the services of their regular skipper Angelo Mathews and will be captained by the senior pro Rangana Herath. Bangladesh, on the other hand, would want to put the defeats in New Zealand and India behind them and start on a positive note. They have shown the intent for that matter, by relieving captain Mushfiqur Rahim off the wicketkeeping duties. The skipper has been the team’s No. 1 batsman in Tests and had also the added responsibility of leading the side as well as keep wickets; something which was too much and was taking a toll on him. That opens up a spot for Liton Das in the side as the specialist ‘keeper.

Then there are some players who have been dropped while some have returned to the side. The changes — forced and otherwise — have ensured the teams will look different from the time they last played a Test. Let us take a look at the likely XIs of the two teams.

Top order: Sri Lanka are likely to go in with a new opening pair as Kaushal Silva has been dropped from the squad. Niroshan Dickwella is in line to make a return to the opening spot after a successful tour to South Africa and Australia, where he excelled in the shorter formats. He will join Dimuth Karunaratne, who hit a fine 212 for Sri Lanka A against the England Lions just 10 days back, at the top. Kusal Mendis is likely to retain his No. 3 spot.

For Bangladesh, Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar are likely to open the innings. Tamim hit a brilliant 136 in the tour match against SLC President’s XI. Though Sarkar failed, Bangladesh may still go with him with no back up option for the other opener’s slot. Imrul Kayes, team’s preferred choice to partner Tamim, will miss the two-match series due to a thigh injury. Mominul Haque, who scored a fluent 73 in the tour match, should bat at No. 3.

Middle order: Dhananjaya de Silva, Dinesh Chandimal and Upul Tharanga are likely to take the No. 4, 5 and 6 spots in the line up. Dhananjaya was not that successful in South Africa, but the youngster has done enough in the recent times to suggest his talent. Chandimal, who got the axe for short trip Down Under hammered 190 not out in the tour match and is likely to take either No. 4 or No. 5 slot. Tharanga should continue at No. 6.

For Bangladesh, the middle order is sorted. Mahmudullah will bat at No. 4 with the two most experienced batsmen of the side — Shakib Al Hasan and Rahim — to follow at No. 5 and 6. The last time Bangladesh played a Test at Galle , Rahim hit a fine 200. Now that he won’t be wearing the wicketkeeping gloves, the team would expect an encore of the same from him.

Lower order and bowling: Sri Lanka have included Asela Gunaratne, who had stunning limited-overs series against South Africa and Australia. A like-for-like replacement for the injured Angelo Mathews, Gunaratne is likely to play at No. 7. He has played two Tests so far and has hit a fifty and hundred already. Following him in the line-up will be skipper Herath at No. 8. The pace duo of Suranga Lakmal and Nuwan Pradeep should play at No. 9 and 10 with Chinaman bowler Lakshan Sandakan completing the XI.

As far as Bangladesh are concerned, Liton will take the No. 7 spot in the line-up, thus ruling out the possibility of fielding Sabbir Rahman in the XI. Also Liton hit an unbeaten fifty in the tour match, which should give Bangladesh some confidence going into the first Test. The remaining four spots are likely to be taken by two spinners and two pacers. Off-spinner Mehedi Hasan Miraz, who has made impact in his short career so far, is likely to take the No. 8 spot. Taijul Islam should make it to the team as the other spinner to complete the troika with Shakib being the third spinner.

Mustafizur Rahman, who has returned to the side after the hamstring injury, should complete the XI along with Taskin Ahmed, as the two are likely to constitute Bangladesh’s pace attack.

Here are the two likely XIs:

Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne, Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dinesh Chandimal (wk), Upul Tharanga, Asela Gunaratne, Rangana Herath (c), Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Lakshan Sandakan.

Bangladesh: Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Mominul Haque, Mahmudullah, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim (c), Liton Das (wk), Mehedi Hasan Miraz, Taijul Islam, Taskin Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman.