Bangladesh are nearly ready to resume the challenges of Test cricket after
nearly 13 months away from the longer version of the game. Real cricket returns.
Bangladesh's first Test
was also against India.
The past year has seen ups and downs, however. Being limited to just ODIs,
Bangladesh played nearly all of their matches during the year against minnow
sides. Of course there were some marquee match-ups during the World Cup and
during the ongoing ODI series with India. It was during this time Bangladesh
showed their best and worst colors. Losing an ODI in Zimbabwe from an almost
impregnable position - thereby causing Shahadat Hossain to become the first
player to record an ODI hattrick, yet still end up on the losing side of things
(Lasith Malinga would become the 2nd "hattrick loser" during the just concluded
World Cup). Yet, Bangladesh rebounded to record a successful World Cup campaign
with the prized scalps of New Zealand, India, and South Africa.
But now a very different challenge looms ahead. Bangladesh have won 3 dozen
ODIs, including a half dozen wins against quality sides. But they have only
ever won just a single Test match, and that too against a pathetically depleted
Zimbabwe team. The Indians will be worlds better.
In Test matches Bangladesh have had some near misses. 2003 and 2006 will be
remembered as the years Bangladesh nearly took down a Test giant. Will 2007
bring the same luck and more? Probably not.
It has become evident that Bangladesh lack the necessary spunk to win matches.
They might come close, even win a few sessions, but to win a Test match, the
team must attack. But Bangladesh are a tiger de-clawed and de-fanged under the
captaincy of Habibul Bashar. Thus the prognosis can be anything but positive.
Expect Bangladesh to show flashes, dominate the visiting Indians in a session
here and there. But ultimately they will concede the cigar.
Out of the 14 probables chosen by the BCB, the starting XI should look like
- Shahriar Nafees - He might be out of form but he is bound to strike sometime.
- Mehrab Hossain Jr - His technique and youth should win him a spot over the
known and limited Javed Omar.
- Rajin Saleh
- Mohammad Ashraful
- Habibul Bashar - Perhaps batting down the order will help recover some confidence
- Saqib al Hasan - Seems he would fit the style of Test cricket well.
- Khaled Mashud - Mushfiq should have been here.
- Mashrafee Mortaza - Developing into a nice allrounder and could possible
bat higher up than Pilot
- Mohammad Rafique - Needs just 13 wickets and 80 odd runs to get his double
of 100 wickets and 1000 runs in Tests.
- Shahadat Hossain - Raw pace wins him the spot over Rasel, but its Rajib's
- Enamul Haque Jr
I am most interested in seeing how Saqib handles the challenges of Test cricket.
It would also be good to see Nafees and Saleh score some runs. I really think
that this is the series where Enam finally explodes onto the international scene.
He is largely unknown by the opposition, and has learned much playing exclusively
for the A team over the last year.
My goals for the series is simple: avoid an innings defeat in both matches,
axe Bashar, and prepare for some real cricket when we tour Sri Lanka. I am afraid
with Bashar's leadership, a farce is all we will see on the field. The performance
will not really indicate what Bangladesh is capable of because we will be forcibly
restrained with overly defensive field settings and foolish bowling changes.
In terms of numbers, I would like to see India restricted to around 400 runs
max in the 1st innings. Our batsmen should at this stage score at least 300
runs. Thus the objective is to trim the 1st innings deficit by as much as possible
because Rafique and Enam might just be able to produce some magic should we
get to bowl a second time with some runs on the board.