Tigers have ‘clarity’ on home advantage against Afghanistan

Selector Habibul Bashar spoke about Bangladesh's confidence heading into the one-off Test against Afghanistan next month, but although that 'confidence' has never quite held up when judged by results in the longest format, there is a plan that the Tigers are focusing on.

National team stars such as Mominul Haque, Shoriful Islam, Nurul Hasan Sohan and Yasir Ali are in Sylhet attending the A team's game against their West Indies counterparts and may be included in the third four-day game at Sylhet. Pacer Khaled Ahmed is currently playing for the A side in the second four-dayer.

Meanwhile, the likes of Nazmul Hossain are batting on stone slabs in Mirpur. It seems there is an idea developing regarding Test stars getting some much-needed input on their performances according to various conditions.

"The A team's matches are very important, but this has gained more prominence this time around and benefitted us as it's before the Test against Afghanistan. That's why the Test players are here and it's a big opportunity. Not because of team selection but because they are getting practice," selector Abdur Razzak told The Daily Star yesterday.

"We aren't playing anyone without proper planning first. It's definitely not that we are playing someone without a motive. Some of them also need practice so we are ensuring that," he added.

The Sylhet outer stadium is hosting the A team's second and third four-dayers and Razzak believes the wicket was a 'good, friendly, sporting wicket'. While preparations continue, selector Habibul Bashar wanted to keep his cards close to his chest but mentioned that they had a clear plan.

"We have a good idea of how the surface in Mirpur will behave and the wicket will be prepared according to our needs," Bashar added.

The wicket in Mirpur will be in focus when Afghanistan play the Tigers on June 14, especially after the decision to curate a surface that slightly favoured spinners backfired in a defeat to Afghanistan last time around.

Ace all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan's absence from the Test due to injury will be another point of concern, especially as it brings the hosts' spin department into focus and in turn highlights Afghanistan's comparative spin strength. Without Shakib, the onus will be on the pacers, aided by spinners Mehedi Hasan Miraz and Taijul Islam.

Selection-wise, the biggest worry will be how to handle Afghanistan's spin threat given their past experience in Chattogram during a 224-run loss.

"Miraz and Taijul are bowling well in Tests. Our fast-bowling department is rich so we will decide accordingly," Bashar remarked.

The team will be announced before Chandika Hathurusingha's arrival on June 3. Asked if determining where home advantage lies would be tough, Bashar remarked: "No it's not. I feel we are a confident team. We are clear about what wickets we should play on".


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