Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim (L) and opening batsman Anamul Haque (R) enjoy the company of St Vincent's Prime Minister Ralph E Gonsalves during an official reception for the Tigers and the West Indians at the prime minister's residence in Kingstown on Wednesday. Team manager and former Test captain Habibul Bashar is also seen. PHOTO: WICB
The Tigers will not have the joy of reliving their sweet memories of the past when they meet West Indies today in the first Test of the two-match series at the Arnos Vale Ground in St Vincent. It was at this venue where they outclassed a weakened West Indies side by 95 runs in their last trip in 2009. They can also draw inspiration from their drawn match in St. Lucia on the 2004 tour, especially as captain Mushfiqur Rahim and coach Chandika Hathurusingha said a draw was a realistic target for the visitors.
With the home side strongly favoured to continue their dominance in the series after a 3-0 ODI success, the visitors' aim would be to belatedly make a mark on international cricket this year. The weather has been temperamental in the island with rain and sunshine alternating wildly. Bangladesh were scheduled for their last training session ahead of the Test yesterday and the team management will only decide on the final 11 after reviewing the pitch, informed team manager and selector Habibul Bashar.
“True we lost the ODI series badly but it's not an impossible task to draw the Test match, but for that the boys have to work hard and play their best cricket,” said former captain Habibul Bashar, who has pleasant memories as a player in the Caribbean.
The team think tank has been contemplating a few positions although it is all but confirmed that 22-year old left-arm spinner from Natore Taijul Islam is going to make his international debut. Can this young man handle the pressure as the only specialist spinner and take the workload in absence of Shakib Al Hasan, Abdur Razzak and Shohag Gazi?
The Bangladesh team has pinned their hopes on their batsmen to fulfill their desire of drawing the Test series against the high-flying West Indies side due to the fact that they have a very inexperienced bowling attack that lacks variety.
"Our realistic goal would be to draw the game. If we play well, bat well, then we will be in the game. Our bowling stock is limited. We must look to bat deep and bat long, score runs and be in the game," Hathurusingha told ESPNcricinfo.
Given the circumstances will Bangladesh field a batting-heavy side with eight batsmen in the line-up? If not then Bangladesh's alternative would be to choose three pacers and one spinner in Taijul. Whether Shuvagoto Hom makes his Test debut by dint of his useful spin bowling and impressive performances in the three-day practice match and with the A team remains a big question as well. If he does, then who will be the player to make way?
Whatever line-up is chosen, it would be ridiculous if the axe falls on left-handed batsman Mominul Haque, whose last Test innings was a century against Sri Lanka.
In the end it will be interesting to see how Bangladesh adjust to the longer version from limited-overs cricket after a long break. This is especially crucial considering that they are playing against a team who are desperately looking to make amends under new captain Denesh Ramdin for their series loss to New Zealand in July. The last Test they played was against Sri Lanka at home in February this year.