Bangladesh are yet to get off the mark in the World Test Championship (WTC) as they lost all the three Test matches that were part of it. Bangladesh will be up against the West Indies on Wednesday to play the first of the two-match Test series at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium (ZACS) in Chattogram.
The hosts are going to play a Test match after almost a year whereas the West Indies have already taken part in two-Test series post-Covid. This might be an advantage for the visitors but they will miss the services of their regular skipper Jason Holder. With Holder, Shamarh Brooks and Roston Chase opting out of the tour, the West Indies middle-order will lack experience. Bangladesh, on the other hand, will play with their full-strength side and will start favourites given their recent record at home.
Spin to win again?
Bangladesh, in the recent past, have overpowered opponents with spin. The chief selector Minhajul Abedin and the head coach Russell Domingo have already hinted at a spin-heavy XI. Bangladesh would definitely like to play to their strength. At the ZACS, Bangladesh spinners have taken more than 91% of total wickets in the last five Tests. Shakib Al Hasan, the wrecker-in-chief, is also going to be back in the side after serving a one-year ban. The all-rounder is the highest wicket-taker (46) in Bangladesh-West Indies Tests as well. He is likely to be partnered by at least two of Taijul Islam, Mehidy Hasan Miraz and Nayeem Hasan. Abu Jayed Rahi, who has been a permanent fixture for a while now, is likely to be partnered by either Ebadat Hossain or Mustafizur Rahman.
West Indies batsmen lost all their wickets to the spinners the last time they played Bangladesh at the ZACS. So, it won't be a surprise at all if Bangladesh play four spinners with Abu Jayed being the lone fast bowler.
Preparing a spin-friendly pitch can work counterproductively as the West Indies have three decent spinners in the form of Jomel Warrican, Veerasammy Permaul and Rahkeem Cornwall. Cornwall, in particular, can be a dangerous customer in such wickets. He was in superb form in the three-day practice match, bagging a five-wicket haul. Warrican and Permaul have also the experience of playing in Bangladesh. Therefore, the match promises to be a great battle between the spinners.
Shadman likely to partner Tamim
Tamim Iqbal has been the mainstay of Bangladesh batting line-up across formats. He is also the highest run-getter among Bangladeshis in Bangladesh-West Indies Tests. Bangladesh haven't yet found a stable opening batsman who can pair up with Tamim especially in Tests.
Saif Hassan, a prolific performer in domestic cricket, was given a couple of opportunities in Tests. But the right-hander couldn't capitalise on them. He didn't look good in the two innings of the practice match against the West Indies either. On the other hand, Shadman Islam, who performed decently in the outings before getting injured, is likely to get the nod as Tamim's partner. Shadman showed some resilience especially in the second innings of the warm-up match.
On Tuesday, Shadman was seen batting for a long time at the nets and centre wicket while Saif didn't bat long. So it is almost certain that Shadman will open with the senior partner Tamim Iqbal on Wednesday.
In the spotlight
Mominul Haque, the current skipper of Bangladesh Test side, loves playing at the ZACS. He averages a staggering 75 here and six of his nine Test hundreds came in Chattogram. As the captain of the side, he will ideally look to lead from the front.
In the absence of Jason Holder, Kraigg Brathwaite will lead the West Indies side. The right-handed batsman will also be a vital cog in the wheel for the visitors. The opening batsman is the highest run-getter against Bangladesh in Tests among active West Indies player. Therefore, a lot will depend on Brathwaite to create a solid platform for the batsmen to come.
Bangladesh (probable XI): Tamim Iqbal, Shadman Islam, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Mominul Haque (captain), Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Liton Das (wk), Taijul Islam, Nayeem Hasan, Abu Jayed, Ebadat Hossain/Mustafizur Rahman.