Bangladesh Time: An 8-0 streak, stretching back 14 years, for Pakistan over Bangladesh in Test cricket is now under legitimate threat after the hosts won the ODI series 3-0 and the lone T20 in Mirpur.
However, with the change to whites comes the addition of captain Misbah-ul-Haq and the veteran Younis Khan to a batting line-up that will also have the in-form Azhar Ali at No 3. The onus will be on Misbah to change the mood within the team. His exit from the ODI side has coincided with immediate losses for Pakistan, so a lot will be expected of him. Younis had a forgettable World Cup campaign, but it is not quite so easy to forget his five Test centuries in 2014.
Pakistan have a few other players whose experience worked last year but lately have run into poor form. Mohammad Hafeez, who has made 34 runs in four innings on tour, will be important at the top. Asad Shafiq, who has been limited to the nets and the bench so far, and Sarfraz Ahmed, who was "rested" in an ODI, are likely to shore up the middle-order batting at Nos. 6 and 7.
The seam attack will be led by Wahab Riaz, with only Junaid Khan for company, and both have been off colour in Bangladesh. Saeed Ajmal too hasn't had a good return to international cricket. So Pakistan could prefer a second spinner who can contain like Zulfiqar Babar rather than Yasir Shah, who missed the ODIs with injury but has since been bowling in the nets. The Khulna pitch turns from any point after the third day, so Ajmal will be more influential as the match progresses.
Similarly, Bangladesh will expect Shakib Al Hasan to find his rhythm in the longer format, with Jubair Hossain and Taijul Islam for assistance. Their major concern will be the pace attack, which looks thin on threat and experience. Rubel Hossain and Shahadat Hossain have been around for a number of years, but have never come of age in Test cricket.
Bangladesh's batting resources are a bit more exciting. Most of the top and middle-order are in form and greater solidity can be found if Soumya Sarkar is used well. Much, however, will depend on Tamim Iqbal at the top and Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib in the middle.
This Categories More News -