Among the biggest gains Bangladesh cricket has made in recent times is in the pace department. There are a variety of bowlers and the fact that they could ignore left-arm Mustafizur Rahman, who has lost his killer off-break following surgery, shows the depth the traditionally spin-dependent side now has in the department.
Of this season’s four visiting sides for Test matches, Bangladesh probably have an attack most suited to the Indian conditions. New Zealand and England couldn’t dominate the India batsmen whereas Australia are already fretting.
England were punished for not grooming good spinners for the just-concluded tour even though their previous Test series triumph in India, in 2012, was scripted by spinners.
“If we have to win, we need to take 20 wickets,” said Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim, who is not 100 % fit for the one-off Test starting on Thursday.
The team has two left-arm spinners, with Shakib Al Hasan the key player, and off-spinner Mehedi Hasan, who had a sensational debut series against England late last year.
Though the seamers struggled in New Zealand, Mushfiqur believes they’ll perform better in these conditions.
Batting the key
It could all come down to how Bangladesh batsmen fare against India’s bowlers, led by Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. India have won Test matches due to the team management’s choice to play five bowlers.
“One thing we have learnt in the past series, especially against England, is patience,” said Kohli, who pointed out that India couldn’t get the opposition out in the Jamaica Test last year. “We learnt how to work for wickets in the series against England.”
India, especially Jadeja, showed that by removing all 10 England batsmen on a last-day Chennai wicket which was still good for batting.
With wickets from some of the better batting sides in their kitty, it is unlikely Ashwin and Jadeja will be tested much against Bangladesh batting, which seems to be a relative weak link in their line-up.
Although they put up good scores in their last series in New Zealand, they collapsed under pressure while trying to bat out for a draw.
It probably happened due to inexperience. Kohli and Sri Lanka coach Chandika Hathurusingha admitted that.
“They have the skill, it’s just that they don’t play that many Test matches to gain confidence as a squad. I mean, it’s very basic. They have become a very good one-day side because they play so many one-dayers and know their combination. If you don’t play Test cricket too often you will not know the mindset,” said Kohli.
Mushfiqur pointed that out. “We went out of Bangladesh to play Test cricket after almost two years. That’s not acceptable. If you don’t give us an opportunity but keep saying we are no good, that can’t be fair,” he said.
However, Hathurusingha says they will try to channelize the passion for the game. The challenge will be finding the Test match mindset.
As Shoaib Ali, the Bangladesh super fan, who attends every match of the team, said: “Even a draw would be a win.”