Dhaka: Bangladesh will be hoping to improve their woeful away record with a win against an under-strength Sri Lankan side when a two-Test series against the hosts gets underway in Galle on Tuesday.
The Test minnows have won just three of their 45 away matches — two against the West Indies in 2009 and one against Zimbabwe in 2013 — but have shown considerable improvement since their last victory abroad.
At home, Bangladesh have won four Tests since 2014, drawn five and conceded only three. They showed impressive recent form against India and New Zealand in away matches despite losing both.
Sri Lanka have a good record at home and beat Australia 3-0 in the last series they hosted in August 2016.
But some heavyweight stars have pulled up stumps, something the tourists hope to capitalise on.
“This is probably our best chance to beat Sri Lanka,” said Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim.
“Maybe they are inexperienced after several retirements. We will try to match them.”
Bangladesh will be buoyed by the return of paceman Mustafizur Rahman, who has not played a Test since his debut series against South Africa in 2015.
But the tourists will not get ahead of themselves and are cautious of Sri Lanka’s impressive home record.
The hosts have won their last five Tests on home soil and will be captained by experienced left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, who replaces injured regular Angelo Mathews.
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.
Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford said he expects a tough series against Bangladesh, who drew their first Test at Galle during a previous visit in 2013.
“We were fortunate to get over the line on that occasion. They have a few players who were part of that squad still playing for Bangladesh and this will be another competitive series,” he said.
The second Test in Colombo from March 15-19 will be Bangladesh’s 100th since gaining full status 17 years ago.
The teams are also scheduled to play three 50-over One Day Internationals before facing off for two Twenty20 Internationals at the tail-end of the tour, which wraps up on April 6.
Sri Lanka: Rangana Herath (capt), Dimuth Karunaratne, Niroshan Dickwella, Upul Tharanga, Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Mendis, Asela Gunaratne, Dinesh Chandimal, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Kumara, Nuwan Pradeep, Vikum Sanjaya Bandara, Dilruwan Perera, Lakshan Sandakan, Malinda Pushpakumara.
Bangladesh: Mushfiqur Rahim (capt), Tamim Iqbal, Liton Das, Soumya Sarkar, Mominul Haque, Shakib Al Hasan, Mahmudullah Riyad, Sabbir Rahman, Mustafizur Rahman, Taijul Islam, Mehedi Hasan, Taskin Ahmed, Mosaddek Hossain, Kamrul Islam Rabbi, Subashis Roy, Rubel Hossain.