Sri Lanka punished for 'below average' pitch ahead of must-win Test

Pallekele (Sri Lanka) (AFP) –


Sri Lanka risk falling to their lowest world rankings position if they fail to beat Bangladesh in the second and final Test starting Thursday at Pallekele after being punished for a "below average" pitch in the high-scoring first game.

The International Cricket Council decision to order a demerit point for Pallekele has added to the pressure on the home side.

The first match ended in a tame draw with the two sides scoring 1,289 runs for the loss of just 17 wickets over the five days.

ICC match referee Ranjan Madugalle said the Pallekele pitch was "below average".

"The character of the pitch hardly changed over the course of five days," Madugalle said. "There was no shift in balance between bat and ball as the game progressed."

Sri Lanka will fall from seventh to eighth in the ICC Test rankings if ninth-placed Bangladesh force a draw or win.

Having backed their fast bowlers in the opening Test, Sri Lanka will turn back to spin this time.

They have included off-spinner Ramesh Mendis, uncapped orthodox left arm spinner Praveen Jayawickrama, who has played only a handful of first class games, and left-arm wrist spinner Lakshan Sandakan in the 13-man squad.

"If you take the spin resources we have, Praveen brings variety into the attack and he probably has an edge,” said captain Dimuth Karunaratne.

Bangladesh coach Russell Domingo said he will stick with opener Saif Hassan despite two low scores in the high-scoring first game.

"Opening the batting is hard in Tests. A lot of openers take a bit of time to find their feet," said Domingo.

Left-arm bowler Shoriful Islam could make his debut.

Bangladesh squad: Mominul Haque (capt), Liton Das, Mushfiqur Rahim, Tamim Iqbal, Abu Jayed, Taijul Islam, Najmul Shanto, Mehidy Hasan, Taskin Ahmed, Ebadot Hossain, Saif Hassan, Shadmam Islam, Mohammad Mithun, Shoriful Islam

Sri Lanka squad: Dimuth Karunaratne (capt), Lahiru Thirimanne, Oshada Fernando, Pathum Nissanka, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Wanindu Hasaranga, Niroshan Dickwella, Suranga Lakmal, Ramesh Mendis, Praveen Jayawickrama, Lakshan Sandakan, Asitha Fernando and Vishwa Fernando