Bangladesh and Afghanistan will resume what has started to become a budding Asian rivalry, but this time it will be in the longest format of the game for the first time as the teams clash on Thursday in Chattogram.
The Tigers will look to start off with a win after a disappointing World Cup campaign where they finished 8th, and after a disastrous tour of Sri Lanka where they lost 3-0 without putting up a fight against the hosts.
New setup for both teams
Under the new head coach Russell Domingo, Bangladesh will see the dawning of a new era as they look to rebuild towards the future and take their cricket to the next level, something the former South Africa team head coach has impressed the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) with.
Domingo will also be aided by fellow South Africans in batting coach Neil McKenzie and fielding coach Ryan Cook, who have been working with the national team for a while. Now fast bowling coach Charl Langeveldt has also joined the setup.
Shakib Al Hasan, who took time away from cricket after the World Cup, where he was by far Bangladesh’s best performer, will once again take the reins of the team, even though he has said that he is a reluctant leader.
The left-handed all-rounder has admitted that he would rather focus on his own form and game than be leading the team, but as is the case, he has come to understand that there isn’t any better alternative.
Afghanistan too will also see a new captain. Star leg-spinner Rashid Khan will take charge with interim head coach Andy Moles as they look to spring up a surprise on the home team.
Moles spoke to the media ahead of the game about how much his team respects Bangladesh. He said that Bangladesh’s spin attack in home conditions made him realise that the Tigers were a level above Afghanistan, but he also warned against taking his team lightly.
It’s a far cry from the words former Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib made. He wanted to sink Bangladesh’s World Cup attempt even after Afghanistan had already been eliminated.
No Tamim while Mustafiz dropped
The Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury stadium generally produces batting friendly pitches. That might not change because Bangladesh have the more experienced batting, even though they will be missing opener Tamim Iqbal.
Despite his lofty standards, Tamim had a disappointing World Cup campaign and an even worse tour of Sri Lanka where he was captain. As a result he requested time away from the game, which the board granted.
The move came shortly after comments made by Shakib to the media where he wanted players who were not fully fit to take time away, and then return rejuvenated. One hopes that Tamim regains his form after the break.
On the other hand, fast bowler Mustafizur Rahman has been dropped from the Test squad with Taskin Ahmed taking his place, although it’s yet to be seen if any fast bowlers are played in this match.
The last Test Bangladesh played at home had an all-spin attack, and that brought rich rewards against the Windies as they were defeated by an innings.
It remains to be seen how the Tigers set up in what promises to be an exciting encounter.