Vol. 5 Num 623 Tue. February 28, 2006  

Sri Lanka Tour of Bangladesh 2006

Tigers expect a better show
Jayawardene banking on spinners

The body language of the Tigers showed no lack of confidence during their final training session yesterday at the Chittagong Divi-sional Stadium on the eve of the first Test against Sri Lanka.

It seemed that the home side was all set to transform their good work of the three-match one-day series into the five-day game against the islanders against whom they have never been competitive in five encounters so far.

Buoyed by an inspiring one-day victory against the visitors that erased the tag of playing bad cricket against Sri Lanka, home captain Habibul Bashar expressed his determination to start afresh in the New Year also in the Tests.

But the 33-year-old was practical, stating that their main target was not to win the Test but to establish themselves as an improving side.

"We played badly in the last two series that only helped our critics to raise their voices. But now I tell you that this is a different side. The team is also in good touch after the one-day series. I can assure you that you will see a different Bangladesh in the Tests," said a confident Bashar.

"The current form shows that we are in a good position but that doesn't mean we are thinking of winning. You can do anything on a given day in one-day cricket but you all know how tough Test cricket is. It would be nice if we can draw the match," he added.

Understandably, batting as long as you can would be the main target of the Tigers to make their dream come true. But they were well aware of the fact that it would not be an easy task against the likes of Muttiah Muralidaran who likes the Bangladeshis as opponents. He has taken 34 wickets in four Tests.

"This time we have taken a very simple strategy against him. Rather than being scared we have decided to accept his presence. We will not avoid him rather we will try to make runs because he will not bowl only ten overs like a one-day match," explained Bashar adding that they were also conscious about the other bowlers considering the past memories.

He also explained why they decided to go into the match without a third seamer when they had desperately felt the need of one during their last tour in Sri Lanka.

"We have always played with two seamers. Once the ball gets older, pacers have little to do on this kind of pitches. I think it would be a fantastic batting pitch," he said.

Coach Dav Whatmore also noticed attitude-wise change in his side.

"It is difficult to describe the change. It is a feeling that I am getting both on the field and in the dressing room. And when a player does have this kind of attitude, he takes a big step forward," said the Australian.

When asked whether they would field or bat first, Whatmore said that it was a simple equation.

"In Test matches if you don't bat first, you have to have a very good attack to bowl the opponents out. Actually, the idea in Test cricket is trying to get a lead," he opined.

Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene pinned hopes on his spin-attack to maintain their winning record against Bangladesh.

"I have seen the wicket and it looked pretty dry and a lot rolled. If there is any moisture in the morning, it will dry out with the sunshine. You know there are plenty of spinners in our line-up and even a few batsman can spin," said the 28-year old middle-order batsman.

He, however, praised Bangladesh highly. "They bowled very well in the last series and it was not easy to score runs against them. So, we have to do all the hard work. But guys have adjusted to the conditions which was not easy, especially who have come for the Test series only," he said.

Coach Tom Moody denied that they were short of experience in absence of pace spearhead Chaminda Vaas.

"(Lasith) Malinga has been playing over the past year while Dilhara Fernando is also playing for quite some time now although he has been irregular in the squad. I think it has given them an opportunity to do something," said the former Australian cricketer.

Habibul Bashar (captain), Khaled Mashud (vice-captain), Javed Omar, Nafees Iqbal, Shahriar Nafees, Mohammad Ashraful, Alok Kapali, Rajin Saleh, Mohammad Rafique, Enamul Haque, Shahadat Hossain, Syed Rasel.

SRI LANKA (from): Mahela Jayawardene (captain), Kumar Sangakkara (vice-captain), Upul Tharanga, Michael Vandort, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Chamara Kapugedera, Prasanna Jayawardene, Muttiah Muralidaran, Malinga Bandara, Farveez Maharoof, Dammika Prasad, Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando, Thilhan Samaraweera, Sajeewa Weerakoon.

STRETCH AS LONG AS YOU CAN: Bangladesh coach Dav Whatmore instructs his charges during a practice session at the Chittagong Divisional Stadium on Monday. PHOTO: STAR