The current situation and primary aim of both Bangladesh and Sri Lanka remain almost indistinguishable as they embark on a two-Test series, the first of which starts today at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in Kandy.
While Sri Lanka are in search of their first Test win since January 2020, Bangladesh are looking to put an end to their abysmal run of form in the game's longest format. The Tigers have lost five of their last six Tests, all under the leadership of Test skipper Mominul Haque. The only win in the format came against lightweights Zimbabwe in February last year in a game that was not part of the World Test Championship (WTC).
While on the topic of the WTC, Bangladesh are yet to register their first points in the competition, suffering five losses in as many games. Sri Lanka, however, have one win in the 10 played.
Sri Lanka have played seven Tests since their last win, recording a draw away to Zimbabwe, two losses in South Africa, two losses at home to England and two draws against West Indies in their most recent tour of the Caribbean.
In almost all these games, Sri Lanka showed glimpses of promise but almost every time failed to cash in on their opportunities and let the game slip away. Interestingly, the reasons for their downfall have been very similar to what Bangladesh have portrayed in their recent series and tours.
While it was sometimes an unprecedented batting collapse, other times it was dropped catches, fielding errors or poor use of the referral system that let the Islanders down. It goes without saying that all these reasons have been a constant feature of Bangladesh cricket in the past.
To prove the point, we do not even have to look very far in the past. It was Bangladesh's lack of proactiveness and their mundane approach that saw a depleted West Indies -- missing a number of their regular players -- snatch the game away from Bangladesh on the final day of the Chattogram Test in February this year after the Tigers had dominated proceedings for the first four days.
Bangladesh ended up losing the Test series to West Indies 2-0 and left for Sri Lanka after suffering two more series losses: whitewashes in ODIs and T20Is away to New Zealand last month.
Despite the subsequent criticism from fans and media following an abysmal string of losses, Bangladesh Test skipper Mominul said that there is no pressure on him or his team.
"I'm not under pressure. None of us are. We have come here to win. We will try our best to win. If the process is right, if we can play well for five days, we will win," the 29-year-old said during the pre-match press conference yesterday.
Mominul also remained very optimistic and hopeful ahead of the tough series.
"Hope must always be there. Wherever you go, no matter how bad the situation is, there must be hope of winning. There must be desire," Mominul added.
While both the teams go into the Test series with hopes of rectifying their mistakes and getting back to winning ways, there also remains a similarity in their approach as skippers of both sides -- Mominul of Bangladesh and Dimuth Karunaratne of Sri Lanka -- mentioned they would be depending on their pacers to deliver in Kandy today.
- Sri Lanka and Bangladesh sit eighth and ninth respectively on the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) ladder.
- A 2-0 win for Dimuth Karunaratne's team would see them draw level with sixth-placed West Indies, having collected 33.33 percent of the available points.
- A 2-0 series win for Bangladesh would see them leapfrog Sri Lanka to eighth, as would a 1-0 result featuring a tied or drawn match.
- After a win, a loss, and a draw across their first three fixtures, Sri Lanka lost five straight matches before ending their losing streak last month, drawing both Tests against the West Indies in Antigua.
- Bangladesh is yet to get off the mark in the WTC as Mominul Haque's side lost all of their five previous fixtures.