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After a captivating one-day series, attention turns to the Test format with a two-match series starting on Thursday (October 20) at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong. After some encouraging performances in two warm-up games, England approach the series in good spirits.
Alastair Cook has returned to lead the squad after the arrival of his second child, having missed both the two-day games to be at the birth, and together with Joe Root, will be the key batsmen in an inexperienced top order. Cook will become England’s most capped Test player, overtaking the 133 matches played by Alec Stewart.
The game is the first in a challenging run of seven Tests for Cook’s England – with five to follow the Bangladesh series in India – and they are focused on not taking the hosts lightly, even if the India series is the more difficult assignment of the winter. They have prepared well and have an in-form squad.
Bangladesh have not played a Test since July 2015 and have named six new faces in their squad in an effort to find a winning combination. Their strong performances in the One-Day International series proved Bangladesh are a team to be reckoned with at home yet England clearly have more Test class and experience.
Getting used to the rhythm of Test cricket may be Bangladesh’s biggest challenge after a year of one-day cricket and much will depend on experienced players captain Mushfiqur Rahim, all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan and opener Tamin Iqbal. Even with strong performances from all three, it is hard to see England falling short.
When: Thursday 20 October, 2016. 10:00 AM local
Where: Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, Chittagong
What to expect: The weather is forecast to be searingly hot for the whole Test. The rain seen earlier in the tour should stay away.
The visitors are likely to name two debutants. Lancashire’s 19 year-old Haseeb Hameed will open with Cook and he will make his Test debut alongside Ben Duckett whose four half-centuries on the tour so far have pushed him ahead of Gary Ballance. Duckett will bat at four above a middle order of Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow.
The early signs are that the visitors will play three seamers with Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes sharing the new ball and Stokes providing support. They will hope the expected reverse-swing is more evident than the little the bowlers saw during the warm-up games.
Ali, Adil Rashid and Gareth Batty will provide the spin options, the latter playing his first Test since 2005. Whilst some may argue, with a nod to the future, that England should pick Batty’s Surrey teammate Zafar Ansari, Ali and Rashid’s indifferent time in the UAE last winter, means it seems a sensible move to pluck for Batty’s consistency and experience.
Batsman Sabbir Rahman’s performances in the One-Day International series have earned him a call up to the squad as one of four uncapped players and he is likely to bat at number seven. The other uncapped players are off-spinner Mehedi Hasan, one of four slow bowlers in the squad, seamer Kamrul Islam Rubbi and Nurul Hasan, a wicketkeeper-batsman.
There is no place for Taskin Ahmed, Bangladesh’s fastest bowler, despite a strong showing against England in the warm-up games because he has not yet considered ready for the rigours of Test cricket, having not played a four-day game since 2013. It is also a decision based on the expected pitch, one expected to be flat and favour spin. Bangladesh have only named two seamers in the squad.
What they said:
“It is nice to play here knowing I have done well in the past. I don’t feel daunted by the conditions. I know what to expect and the game you have to play which has been successful for me in the past.”Alastair Cook will be looking to add to his 2,252 runs in the subcontinent.
Did you know?
Alastair Cook will become England’s most capped player going past Alec Stewart’s 133 Tests. He has missed only one out of England’s 134 Tests since his debut.
If selected, Gareth Batty will make his first appearance in Tests since 2005. He has missed 142 Test matches – the most by any player – eclipsing Martin Bicknell’s 114 matches.
Shakib Al Hasan needs three more scalps to become the first from his country to 150 Test wickets.
Jonny Bairstow needs 54 more matches to become the highest run-scorer in a calendar year among wicketkeepers. He currently has 992 runs from 10 Tests in 2016.
England (From): Alastair Cook(c), Ben Duckett, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow(w), Ben Stokes, Zafar Ansari, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, Adil Rashid, Steven Finn, Gareth Batty, Haseeb Hameed, Gary Ballance, Jake Ball, Jos Buttler
Bangladesh (From): Imrul Kayes, Tamim Iqbal, Mominul Haque, Mahmudullah, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim(w/c), Sabbir Rahman, Shuvagata Hom, Taijul Islam, Shafiul Islam, Kamrul Islam Rabbi, Nurul Hasan, Mehedi Hasan, Soumya Sarkar