Having outclassed a clueless Windies within three days in the first Test at Chittagong, a determined Bangladesh are now aiming for their maiden home Test series triumph against the boys from the Caribbean. The second Test starts from Friday in Dhaka and Shakib Al Hasan-led Tigers will go into the decider as strong favourites, considering that yet another spin-friendly track will be on offer over there.
In the absence of the regular skipper Jason Holder, Kraigg Brathwaite is leading the visitors in Test matches and at Chittagong, he and his boys had to encounter some alien conditions during their 64-run defeat in that encounter. On a rank turner, he lost a crucial toss and from that point the Windies were always behind the eight ball. And despite some occasional brilliance from the bowlers, their batting failure against Bangladeshi spinners led to the downfall of the tourists.
Apart from Shimron Hetmyer and Shane Dowrich in the first innings and Sunil Ambris in the second, no other Caribbean batsmen put up any sort of significant resistance as all of their 20 wickets fell to the four home spinners - Shakib, Taijul Islam, Mehidy Hasan Miraz and 17-year old debutant Nayeem Hasan.
Now, in the quest of a resurgence, Windies have arrived at Mirpur, which is considered as the den of Bangladesh cricket. In the recent past, the hosts have defeated much stronger Test teams like England and Australia at this venue. Hence, to have any hope of an upset, the visitors desperately need more contributions from their batters.
On paper, there is a fair bit of potential in this batting line-up. Recently in the Hyderabad Test, we saw someone like Roston Chase score a hundred batting against the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav. Furthermore, we know what skipper Brathwaite, Kieran Powell and Shai Hope are capable of. Hence, they just need to show more application and intent. Most importantly, this team bats deep. So, if everyone can chip in with some contributions, Windies can reach a respectable score. On these sort of spin-friendly pitches something around 350 can turn out to be decisive as the visitors have the attack to tame the opponent.
But first and foremost, Brathwaite needs to win the toss and bat first, otherwise it will be far more difficult for his teammates to counter the spin-threat in the second and fourth innings.
Nevertheless, considering the lack of experience in the reserve bench, the Windies think-tank is unlikely to make any changes in their XI, unless it is a forced one.
For Bangladesh, opener Imrul Kayes will miss the Test due to an injured shoulder and in his place uncapped Shadman Islam is all set to make his Test debut. The 23-year old is a prolific run-scorer in the domestic circuit, averaging 47.50 after 42 First-Class matches. In fact, earlier, in the absence of Tamim Iqbal, Islam was expected to make his debut in the first Test following a classy 73 against the Windies attack in a warm-up fixture, but at the last moment the team management went ahead with more experienced Soumya Sarkar, who eventually disappointed with twin-failures.
However, there is no specific update regarding Tamim's fitness yet. But the selectors have confirmed that depending upon his availability, the senior pro can be considered even on a short notice. Perhaps that's why Bangladesh have named a 13-member squad for this fixture. The rest of the batting meanwhile, is expected to remain the same.
Meanwhile, Mushfiqur Rahim hurt his thumb during practice yesterday. Though scans have revealed that it is not serious but as a precaution Liton Das has been asked to keep himself ready.
Going forward, the much talked about Bangladesh's four-pronged spin attack will once again be at the center of attention. Especially, the performance of young teenage off-spinner Nayeem, who in the last Test became the youngest debutant to take a five-for in this format, will be followed with a keen interest by the fraternity.
At Chittagong, Mustafizur Rahman, their only pacer, bowled just four overs in the entire Test match and going by the recent trend surrounding the wickets at Mirpur, we can expect a similar sort of scenario in the second Test as well.
As mentioned earlier, toss is expected to play a crucial role in the outcome of this Test match as the wicket will deteriorate with each passing session. So, until and unless batsmen from both teams show better application from the last game, we can expect yet another early finish.
Expected Bangladesh XI: Shadman Islam, Soumya Sarkar, Mominul Haque, Mohammad Mithun, Shakib Al Hasan (C), Mushfiqur Rahim (WK), Mahmudullah, Mehidy Hasan, Nayeem Hasan, Taijul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman.
Expected Windies XI: Kraigg Brathwaite (C), Kieran Powell, Shai Hope, Sunil Ambris, Roston Chase, Shimron Hetmyer, Shane Dowrich (WK), Devendra Bishoo, Kemar Roach, Jomel Warrican, Shannon Gabriel.