Hosts Bangladesh will look to maintain their dominance in the ongoing bilateral home series against Pakistan and register their maiden win over the opposition in five-day cricket when they face other today in the first of two Test matches at Sheikh Abu Naser Stadium. The first session will begin at 10am and the BTV and GTV will telecast the Test live.
The Tigers are in their best possible shape as they posted a memorable series sweep in the three-match ODI series before thumping the visitors in the solitary Twenty20 International. However, the home side, in all likelihood, are expected to encounter their first real test today against the world’s fourth-best Test side.
Bangladesh and Pakistan have locked horns against each other in eight Tests so far and the latter has emerged victorious in all of them. Having said that, given the momentum the Tigers are in at the moment, Pakistan’s 14-year unbeaten run against Bangladesh in Tests is under severe threat.
As expected, the onus will be on star all-rounder Shakib al Hasan to lead the Tigers from the front. The track-record at SANS indicates that the spinners have largely dominated proceedings so a lot will depend on Shakib and his two subordinates – left-arm spinner Taijul Islam and right-arm leg-spinner Jubair Hossain.
Bangladesh’s main concern, however, is their fast-bowling department. Although Rubel Hossain is in fine form with the leather, he has disappointed more often than not whenever he donned the white clothing. Shahadat Hossain or Mohammad Shahid will get the nod today to partner Rubel and early strikes from them will be crucial if the Tigers are to make a good start to the Test match.
In contrast, the Tigers’ batting department is in great touch as almost all of the batsmen are among the runs. The uncapped Soumya Sarkar will add power to the batting order while opener Tamim Iqbal and captain Mushfiqur Rahim, who are both heading to the Test series on the back of a scintillating run in the just-concluded three-match ODI series, will eye to continue their recent purple patch.
The visitors, on the other hand, will be desperate to bounce back in the series. The change in format saw experienced cricketers Misbah-ul Haq and Younis Khan return to the side and much will depend on the duo if Pakistan are to salvage something or anything from the tour of Bangladesh.
The arrivals of Misbah and Younis will no doubt strengthen the Pakistan middle-order. Younis, especially, is in great form in five-day cricket, having scored five hundreds last year, including a double century against Australia.
Mohammad Hafeez and Saeed Ajaml, the other veteran campaigners of Pakistan, will try to complement the effort of Misbah and Younis. Hafeez and Ajmal have had a disappointing tour so it will be imperative for them to perform well and end the tour on a bright note.
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