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A brilliant Test match in Chittagong went the way of England but the encouraging performance of the home side means the second, and final, game of the series in Mirpur beginning on Friday (October 28) is eagerly anticipated. It is to be hoped the game matches the heights seen so far on the tour, one which has been full of vibrant cricket from both sides.
Despite an excellent first Test, there are questions for both sides to answer. England’s top order struggled to negotiate the Bangladeshi spinners on a difficult pitch and they will have to do better in Mirpur. Lack of top order runs is not a new problem for Alastair Cook’s side – they seem to be perennially 30 for three – and it is a weakness that is starting to develop into a cancer.
England’s spinners, including Zafar Ansari who is likely to debut in place of the rotated Gareth Batty, have also got a point to prove after an inconsistent performance on a helpful pitch in Chittagong. Head Coach Trevor Bayliss has said encouraging words about the performances of Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali with the ball but there is no doubt that both will be expected to bowl a more consistent length than they managed in the first Test.
For Bangladesh, the question is more mental. So close to a victory in Chittagong, they will want to avoid any sense that they missed their big chance. At various points in the opening Test the home side were on top yet let the advantage slip through carelessness. Shakib Al Hasan’s awful shot on the third morning was a case in point. Clearly having the skill to test England, the lack of discipline and consistency over five days cost them and this needs to be addressed.
With rotation on the minds of England – Stuart Broad is expected to be rested – ahead of a five Test series in India, Bangladesh may sense another opportunity to register their first Test victory over their visitors. The conditions are in their favour too: the pitch is expected to be dry and cracked, turning from day one, and Bangladesh’s three spinners, so effective in Chittagong, will be a handful once again.
It has been clear throughout the tour that England have not taken Bangladesh lightly and will not do so again. It is likely both Cook and Bayliss would rather have picked Broad and Batty for this game in order to ensure a series win but the preposterous schedule hasn’t allowed them the luxury of picking their best team. It may just cost England a Test match.
When: Friday, October 28 – 10.00 AM Local (9:30 AM IST)
Where: Shere Bangla National Stadium, Mirpur, Dhaka
What to expect: There has been rain in and around Dhaka leading up to the game and more is forecast for the opening three days of the Test. Not that it will dampen the temperatures; it is still expected to be in the mid-30s.
England: Bayliss has all but confirmed England’s top four will remain the same for the match in Dhaka despite mustering just 96 runs between them in the opening game, and the presence of Jos Buttler in the squad. It does mean another chance for Ben Duckett at the top of to the order and perhaps a final one for Gary Ballance who averages just 22 since he recall during the summer.
While the batting order will remain consistent, England’s ridiculous schedule of seven Tests in just 62 days means they will rotate both Broad and Batty from the bowling attack that played in Chittagong. Steven Finn will replace Broad and Batty’s place will be taken by his Surrey team- mate Zafar Ansari, who will make his Test debut.
It is an interesting decision by England’s management but one that has been forced upon them by the schedule. Broad will be a key weapon against India and needs to be protected for that series while England want to see if Ansari’s left-arm spin can find enough turn away from the right-handers to suggest he could be useful against India’s spate of right-handed batters.
Bangladesh: The hosts have called up batsman Mosaddek Hossain and pace bowler Subashis Roy, the first time either have been involved with Bangladesh’s Test squad. Shafiul Islam has been rested rather than dropped from the squad in a surprising move by the home side’s selectors considering Bangladesh do not have another Test match until January against New Zealand.
Mosaddek was originally called-up as cover for Sabbir Rahman who has been unwell over the past few days. Sabbir’s excellent half-century in Bangladesh’s second innings was a good start to his Test career and fortunately for the home side, he was confirmed fit for the match on Wednesday. Mosaddek will remain with the squad however.
Shafiul’s absence from the side may mean a chance for Subashis to make his Test debut but the pitch looks dry and cracked two days out from the game so the opportunities for the quick men may be limited. The spinners Shakib Al Hasan, Taijul Islam and Mehedi Hasan, who performed so well in Chittagong, are again likely to do the majority of the bowling in Mirpur, so Mosaddek’s inclusion to lengthen the batting may be an option for the home side.
Did you know?
Alastair Cook will be captaining England for the 54th time in Tests – joint-most by any, alongside Michael Atherton
Mushfiqur Rahim will become the third Bangladesh player to feature in 50 Tests after Mohammad Ashraful (61) and Habibul Bashar (50).
This will be England’s first Test match outside home without James Anderson and Stuart Broad since March 2008.
What they said:
“I don’t think there’s any reason to change the top six at this stage. The top four guys found it very difficult against the new ball facing the spinners. That was very difficult facing good spin bowlers on a wicket which sometimes bounced up around your shoulder and sometimes skidded straight through. I’m sure all the batters will be better for it.”
Trevor Bayliss on the form of England’s top six
England (From): Alastair Cook(c), Ben Duckett, Joe Root, Gary Ballance, Jonny Bairstow(w), Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, Stuart Broad, Gareth Batty, Zafar Ansari, Steven Finn, Haseeb Hameed, Jake Ball, Jos Buttler
Bangladesh (From): Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Mominul Haque, Mahmudullah, Sabbir Rahman, Mushfiqur Rahim(w/c), Shakib Al Hasan, Mehedi Hasan, Taijul Islam, Kamrul Islam Rabbi, Mosaddek Hossain Saikat, Soumya Sarkar, Subashis Roy, Nurul Hasan, Shuvagata Hom