DHAKA: Bangladesh Test captain Mushfiqur Rahim believes his team has "a good chance" of an upset victory against Sri Lanka given the island nation's current dearth of heavyweight players.
A 16-member squad will leave on Monday to play two Tests against the Sri Lankans — one in Galle on March 7-11 and another in Colombo, which starts on March 15 and will be Bangladesh's 100th Test.
The teams are also scheduled to play three ODIs before facing off for two T20Is at the tail-end of the tour, which wraps up on April 6.
Sri Lanka have a good record at home, beating Australia 3-0 in the last series they hosted in August 2016.
But the team will be without some of its star players during the Bangladesh tour following the retirements of Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Muttiah Muralitharan.
Sangakkara, Jayawardene and Dilshan are the only players to have scored more than 1,000 Test runs against Bangladesh while off-spinner Muralitharan claimed 89 wickets in 11 Tests.
"They [Sri Lanka] are going to miss some players who have been part of their team for many days. Regular captain Angelo Mathews is also absent," Rahim said in Dhaka ahead of the team's departure.
Skipper Angelo Mathews was Saturday ruled out of the Tests, even as selectors said they were preparing to field a "formidable team".
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.
Rahim also pointed to his side's bowling variety. "We have three different types of bowlers in Shakib Al Hasan, Mustafizur Rahman and Mehedi Hasan. When they bowl together it would create pressure on any opponent," he said.
He added that Bangladesh's recent performance in Tests would also help. "They will remain under a little pressure because they know Bangladesh are also playing well for a long period. Considering all these factors, I would say we have a good chance," he said.
Bangladesh drew their Test series against England in October at home. Although they lost their last two series in New Zealand and India, the Tigers were able to stretch the matches to the fifth day.
"Everything will actually depend on how we can give our best. If we can give our best, I am sure the result will come to our favour," said Rahim. "I think in Test, one-day international or Twenty20 international -- whatever the format is -- people now expect us to win," he added.
Bangladesh have played 16 Tests against Sri Lanka, the highest for the Test minnows against any opponent. But they could manage only two draws against the islanders in their previous two series.