Bangladesh will be facing off a known opponent, Afghanistan, for the first time in the longer format of the game in their one-off Test starting from September 5 at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium (ZACS) in Chattogram.
And much like they usually do in the shorter formats -- ODIs and T20Is -- the Afghans will be posing a threat with the variation in their spin attack in the longer version of the game. The 15-member Afghanistan squad includes four frontline spinners.
More than the number of spinners, it is the variety they possess that will be most challenging for the Bangladesh batsmen.
Skipper Rashid Khan is known to bamboozle batsmen with his quality leg-spin while all-rounder Mohammad Nabi specialises in simple yet effective off-spin to keep the scoring rate in check and take wickets by creating pressure.
Meanwhile, Zahir Khan, who played for Khulna Titans in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) earlier this year, is a left-arm chinaman bowler. It was his exploits in the Afghanistan’s sole two-day practice game against BCB XI that saw the home side bundled out for a meagre 123 in 44.3 overs on the second day at the M.A Aziz Stadium in Chattogram yesterday.
Continuing on from their overnight score of 242 for six, Afghanistan declared at 289 for nine yesterday morning. BCB XI were in trouble early on and never really recovered, succumbing to Zahir’s spin web. After Rashid had sent back opener Anamul Haque (19) in his very first over, Zahir started to weave his magic and finished with figures of 24 for five. BCB XI slumped under the spell of Zahir and Rashid as the duo bagged eight wickets between them. The match was drawn after Afghanistan reached 14 without loss in 3.5 overs after the exchange.
While Zahir and Rashid starred in the practice match, Qais Ahmad -- another leg-spinner in the Afghan squad -- who lends further variety to their spin quartet, remained wicketless in his two overs yesterday.
While Afghanistan are most likely to attack with their spin variation, Bangladesh -- who also have four front-line spinners alongside a few part-timers in their ranks -- will however rely on sticking to their processes. The spin quartet of skipper Shakib Al Hasan, Mehedi Hasan Miraz, Taijul Islam and Nayeem Hasan are all more or less traditional spin bowlers who specialise in extracting the most from the wicket by maintaining line and length.
Young off-spinner Nayeem Hasan said that the Tigers will try to stay focused on their process to achieve success.
“Actually you need to play according to the process. If the process is maintained and I also give my 100 per cent, we can get the success at the end of the day,” said the 18-year-old at ZACS after the Tigers’ first practice session in the port city yesterday.
Judging by past trends of team combinations, it can be expected that both sides will attack with spin in the Chattogram Test, although the methods will likely be different for each team.