Bangladesh last won a Test match on foreign soil in 2017. That was against Sri Lanka in March of that year. The Tigers played eight Test matches away from home after that and lost all of them.
The statistics prove Bangladesh's vulnerability outside home. Whenever Mominul and co. play outside their comfort zone, in uncertain pitches that are not turning square, they tend to crumble.
Therefore, the split series against Pakistan in Pakistan will not be an easy task for the visitors. Add to that the absence of Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan, then it is easy to comprehend Bangladesh really have a mountain to climb.
Breaking the streak
Bangladesh desperately want to break the losing streak outside home. The skipper, Mominul Haque knows he will be under pressure to provide a positive result, despite playing on unfamiliar terrain. Statistics and recent form are against his team.
Mominul knows the importance of a win. He hopes to break the overseas curse.
"We have to break the streak. Everyone is ready for a win. We have prepared well for this Test match and we are very optimistic about winning this." Mominul said in the pre-match press conference on Thursday.
But given that Bangladesh are going to enter the realm of ICC Test Championship with this match, things are bound to get tougher.
"As a match of the Test championship, this match is very important for them (Pakistan) like it is important for us. We have to adapt to the conditions. Though it's a bit chilly, conditions are good here, we are trying to adapt quickly", said Mominul.
Tamim's purple patch is good news for Bangladesh
However, there is some good news for the Bangladesh camp. Firstly, the premium form of Tamim Iqbal. The mercurial left-hander last played a Test match almost 11 months ago. A scintillating triple hundred in his latest first-class match proves that he is more than ready to compensate for the lost time.
The Tiger skipper is upbeat about the form Tamim is in and is counting on his prime weapon in tough conditions.
"Tamim Iqbal is a world-class player. He played a great knock in the last BCL match. So, I think he will adapt quickly" said Mominul.
But, the absence of Mushfiqur Rahim, who has been the backbone of the Bangladesh middle order for so long, means more opportunities for Mohammad Mithun, Najmul Hossain Shanto and Liton Das to rise and shine.
Bowling is Pakistan's strength
Historically, Pakistan always bank on their bowlers to produce the goods. Rawalpindi won't be an exception. The hosts have a plethora of talents to choose from. Mohammad Abbas is their number one pick for Tests. Alongside him will be the consistent Shaheen Afridi and the pacey Naseem Shah. But, given Bangladesh's proven track record of not playing leg-spin well overseas, Yasir Shah might appear as the biggest threat.
However, Pakistan skipper Azhar Ali knows the complex dynamics of a Test match and eschews from picking up a favourite.
"Test matches are not easy to win. We have to play our best cricket to beat Bangladesh. We are not taking them lightly. Even though they are missing some of their senior players, they still possess players who can produce match-winning performances. We want to play our game from the start", Azhar stated.
What the expert says
Former National Team Captain Gazi Ashraf Hossain Lipu admits that playing without Shakib and Mushfiq will be tough but he thinks the team should be focused on the basics.
"We have to create our own chances. We are not in a good position without Shakib and Mushfiq in Test matches. So the new boys would have to step up. Bowlers have to bowl really well" suggests Lipu.
Also, the former skipper opined that spinners should bring more to the game fielders should support them wholeheartedly.
"Our spinners lack the experience needed to play Test matches. Taijul has a bit of experience but Naeem is absolutely raw. But his rawness can be used as a surprise. In terms of fielding, we have to be very good at close catching positions. Our star players usually do not like to stand in forward short leg or silly point, but we have to be stronger in those areas, especially when the spinners are operating" stated Lipu.
According to Bangladesh Head Coach Russell Domingo, the batting order is more or less fixed. Bangladesh usually plays three pacers abroad. Mominul also can choose an extra spinner depending on the pitch.
Probable Bangladesh line-up: Tamim Iqbal, Saif Hassan, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Mominul Haque (capt), Mohammad Mithun, Mahmudullah, Liton Das (wk), Taijul Islam, Rubel Hossain, Abu Jayed, and Ebadot Hossain.
On the other hand, Pakistan have called up spinner Bilal Asif and all-rounder Mohammad Rizwan. But, it won't be surprising if they decide to go with the winning combination from the last Test match.
Probable Pakistan line-up: Shan Masood, Abid Ali, Azhar Ali (capt), Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Abbas, Naseem Shah, and Shaheen Afridi.