Rain looms as Tigers look to shift gear
Bangladesh will embark on their 50th Test match at home today when they take on South Africa at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong in the first match of the two-Test series.
Mornings in Chittagong have looked a tad bit depressing with continuous rain and yesterday was no different. However, for a change, rain stopped just before noon, allowing Bangladesh team, who had spent most of the morning training indoors, to engage in a game of football on the lush green outfield towards the end of their session.
The ground took barely an hour to dry up after rain stopped, thanks to the excellent drainage system in place here.
The weather forecast, though, is not too encouraging for cricket. It is expected to rain throughout the day today and thundershowers are expected at various points of time from day two onwards. However, if rain takes a break, we might be in for an exciting day's play, with a number of players likely to make their debuts for either side.
Bangladesh's pace bowling sensation Mustafizur Rahman has a good chance of getting the Test cap as both coach Chandika Hathurusingha and captain Mushfiqur Rahim spoke highly of him during the pre-match press conference yesterday.
The visitors, on the other hand, have three uncapped players in their ranks, amongst whom is the impressive Kagiso Rabada, who took a six-wicket haul on his ODI debut earlier this month against Bangladesh.
The Test will also witness the return of Bangladesh's Test specialists Imrul Kayes and Mominul Haque. Both the top-order batsmen have been amongst runs lately and with Test cricket being the only form of international cricket they are involved in, they would hope to do all they can to impress the team management.
Mushfiqur indicated that he would not be keeping wickets in this Test, which means Litton Das will keep his place in the side. With Litton and Soumya Sarker in the squad, the hosts have every chance of playing eight batsmen including all-rounder Mahmudullah Riyad.
If they do move ahead with that ploy, then all-rounder Nasir Hossain and left-arm spinner Taijul Islam will likely sit out. Of the three remaining slots, leg-spinner Jubair Hossain is likely to get the nod, thanks to his attacking display against India in the Fatullah Test.
The other two spots could be a battle between the Mustafizur, Rubel Hossain and Mohammad Shahid.
In Test cricket, Bangladesh and South Africa have met on eight occasions, all of which have been won by the South Africans and they have won seven of those eight matches by an innings.
The only one match where Bangladesh did not lose by an innings took place in Mirpur back in 2008 where they ultimately lost by five wickets. In that match Shahadat Hossain took a six-wicket haul; Mohammad Ashraful got AB de Villiers out with a delivery that bounced twice and South Africa, in a rare occurrence, conceded a first innings lead.
However, with the team riding on high on confidence following the ODI series victory, Mushfiqur Rahim and co will hope that they can turn a corner, just like they have been doing in ODIs throughout this year.