A stern test awaits Tigers
A stern test awaits Bangladesh as the demoralised Tigers take on a high-flying Pakistan in the first of the two-match Test series at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chattogram today.
The match, set to start at 10:00am, will also see Bangladesh begin their journey in the second cycle of the ICC World Test Championship.
Bangladesh cricket is going through some turmoil after a dismal ICC T20 World Cup campaign and a whitewash at the hands of Pakistan in the recently concluded three-match T20I series.
Although Bangladesh go into the Test series on the back of a convincing win in their one-off Test away to Zimbabwe, which remains the Tigers' only win in the format this year, there will be a lot of focus on skipper Mominul Haque and team management's approach towards the longest format.
The Babar Azam-led Pakistan have already announced a 12-member squad for the first Test while Bangladesh made two last-minute inclusions to the squad as they added pacers Khaled Ahmed and uncapped Shohidul Islam to extend the squad from 15 to 17 just a day before the game.
The last time Bangladesh played at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium was against the West Indies back in February this year where the hosts were handed a three-wicket defeat after the visitors recorded the highest successful run-chase in Asia.
The Tigers will be without their experienced campaigners like Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal, both of whom are sitting out due to injuries, and Mahmudullah Riyad, who had announced his retirement from the format on Wednesday. That will see skipper Mominul share the bulk of the responsibility with experienced Mushfiqur Rahim in order to guide a relatively inexperienced side.
Liton Das, after being dropped from the T20 side, is expected to play a big role alongside Mominul and Mushfiqur in the middle order. Meanwhile, right-hander Yasir Ali, who is yet to make his Test debut despite being in all the Test squads that played this year, may get the nod today.
However, it is still not confirmed whether young Mahmudul Hasan Joy, who earned his maiden Test call-up, would make his debut and open the innings with Shadman Islam.
Left arm spinner Taijul Islam and Mehedi Hasan Miraz are expected to lead the spin department while pacer Abu Jayed will remain the auto-choice in the pace department. It will be interesting to see whether the think-tank opts for another debut in the form of pacer Rejaur Rahman Raja as the second seamer or look for other alternatives between Khaled, Shohidul, and Ebadot Hossain.