Bangladesh cricket has not been in the best of states both on and off the field since a disappointing exit from the ICC World Cup in England, which was followed by a humiliating one-day series defeat in Sri Lanka. The Tigers will however try to put all those forlorn experiences behind them when they take on Afghanistan in a one-off Test as favourites at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium today. The match will start at 10:00am.
It is a different format but a clinical approach from the Tigers against the newest members of the elite Test club will create some positive vibes after a bleak recent record and some controversy surrounding ODI skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza.
It will be Bangladesh’s 115th Test match while Afghanistan will play just their third – a gulf sufficient enough to explain why the hosts will be favourites when they return to Test cricket after five months. Enjoying the home advantage will also help the Tigers’ cause. Bangladesh will definitely want to forget their last Test series in New Zealand in February-March and take inspiration from their last home series, which they won 2-0 against West Indies in November last year.
Afghanistan have gained credibility in limited-overs cricket in rapid fashion, but five-day cricket is a new proposition for the war-torn country. Still, their versatile spin attack can pose a threat. Bangladesh are expected to play with a spin-heavy attack -- their proven recipe for home success -- and the visitors will also rely on their spin attack. With both sides strong in the spin department, Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan made it clear yesterday that batting would separate the teams.
The Chattogram pitch is expected to provide a lot of assistance to spinners but it will be important for Bangladesh’s batsmen to tackle the Afghan spinners in the absence of experienced opener Tamim Iqbal to start the new season on a positive note, while for Afghanistan they will surely put up a tough fight to make their presence felt in the Test arena.