After the Test drubbing in the Caribbean in July this year, Bangladesh will be looking to get a measure of revenge on the West Indies when the return series gets underway with the first Test at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chattogram from November 22.
In order to do that the Bangladesh players were eagerly preparing for the challenge on the second day of practice at the venue yesterday.
The focus during a lengthy training session was on pace and bounce. A host of net bowlers were called in to bowl alongside the two pacers in Bangladesh's squad -- Mustafizur Rahman and Khaled Ahmed. The net bowlers were routinely overstepping the crease while bowling to the likes of Mahmudullah Riyad and Mominul Haque, perhaps to simulate the greater speed that is expected from the West Indies pacers.
Mushfiqur Rahim, who became Bangladesh's first batsman to hit two double-centuries by smashing his second in the Mirpur Test against Zimbabwe last week, was facing throwdowns alongside Imrul Kayes in another pair of nets, and both were being treated to some of the short stuff. Imrul was being fed chest-high full tosses and he was happily pulling them off the front foot -- on second thought perhaps not the ideal preparation for Shannon Gabriel, Kemar Roach and Co.
Soon, Mushfiqur was practising his favourite shots -- the sweep and reverse sweep, perhaps knowing that the pitch at the centre would favour the spinners and he would need to bring his sweep game if he is to author another epic.
He then started doing his running drills all by himself, and when the BCB photographer went up to talk to him, Mushfiqur challenged him to do a sprint with him. Needless to say, the photographer did not last too long, huffing and puffing back to the shelter of the sightscreen after the first run.
That was not so with Bulu, the ever-popular BCB staff who takes care of the team and the media's needs during such sessions. Mushfiqur challenged him and for a while Bulu seemed actually to outpace the Test cricketer. The middle-aged Bulu came back, none the worse for wear, and said matter-of-factly: “I had to slow down after a while -- otherwise he would have gotten injured trying to keep up with me.”
Meanwhile, pacer Khaled -- the luckless debutant against Zimbabwe who had three catches dropped off his bowling -- had padded up and was facing some of the spice in the nets. A bouncer hit him on his right hand and for a while it seemed the worst had happened as he opened his glove and left the net. Thankfully, he was back batting after no time, but that was not the end of the threat.
Having completed his session, he plopped down on one of the chairs underneath the beach umbrella with Mustafizur doing some knocking behind him. The Fizz, who had concentrated on playing straight till then, flicked one and it thudded into the chair behind an unsuspecting Khaled, which was followed by chuckles from some of the team. Khaled glared at Mustafizur, perhaps wondering if the teammates who had deprived him of a maiden wicket were also now trying to maim him before he could play a second Test.