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BAN v AUS, 1st Test Preview: Upbeat Bangladesh looking to jolt Australia

Of late Bangladesh have competed very well against top sides in Test cricket.

Bangladesh
Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim (C) and teammates celebrate their victory. (Photoby ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)

Australia has had a complete change of personnel since the last time they played the Tigers in white flannels. Australian skipper Steve Smith not even made his first-class debut when Ricky Ponting’s men whitewashed the hosts 2-0 back in 2006. Meanwhile, Bangladesh has become a sound team and cannot be mistaken to be mere pushovers anymore.

After giving England a scare last year, Bangladesh went on to win a Test in Sri Lanka and draw the 2-match series. They are a much better team at home and the visitors are wary of it. Australia knows that they would be peppered with a lot of spin during the course of the series and were seen batting without the front pad in the nets in order to play more with the bat. The Kangaroos have a great bunch of players in the squad but it would need a clinical performance form their side to keep the hosts at bay.

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The visitors are currently ranked 4 in the ICC Test rankings and even a drawn series would result in them to slip to No.5. Smith’s men are in danger of slipping further to No. 6 if they happen to lose the series. To their credit, they responded well to the spin challenge in India, a series they eventually lost by 2-1 after getting 1-0 ahead in the first Test.

Focus will be on

Tamim Iqbal

The left-hander has made a lot of runs across formats for Bangladesh in the last two years. In a big series against Australia, the Tigers will turn towards Tamim for inspiration. A naturally attacking batsman, Tamim will look to seize the advantage early in the innings by playing his brand of cricket. He proved his mettle in the Champions Trophy, where he posted scores of 128, 95 and 70 against big teams like England, Australia, and India. The 29-year old has been a key element in Bangladesh’s rapid rise in international cricket in the last couple of years. His ability to play spin efficiently will also be a big advantage for the hosts.

Nathan Lyon

The tall New South Wales off-spinner has come of age in international cricket. He is known to be the best off-spinner in the world after R Ashwin of India. He enjoyed a decent series against India in spin-friendly conditions, picking a career best 8/50 in the second Test. Lyon relies more on the traditional off spin rather than using variations. His height allows him to get that little bit of extra bounce which could be decisive playing in the sub continent. He will be looking to put two best Bangladeshi batsmen – Tami and Shakib – under pressure as both happen to be left-handers. Since the start of 2015, Lyon has gone on to pick 113 wickets at 31.54 in Tests and have enjoyed bowling on the dust bowl surfaces in the sub continent.

Team Combinations

Bangladesh

Soumya Sarkar might be just 7 Tests old but he looks set to open the batting with Tamim Iqbal. Imrul Kayes might get an edge over Mominal Haque for the No. 3 spot followed by the young and impressive Sabbir Rahman at 4. The experienced duo of Shakib and Musfiqur Rahim will take on the No. 5 and 6 positions. Liton Das might take the big gloves to take the pressure off skipper Mushfiqur. Mehedi Hasan, a capable off spinner can handle the bat at No. 8. Taijul Islam will be the second left-arm spinner in the XI apart from the experienced Shakib. Mustafizur Rahman and Taskin Ahmed are expected to open the bowling for the home side.

Australia

Matt Renshaw will get another opportunity to open alongside David Warner. Smith will take his usual No. 3 spot followed by Usman Khawaja at 4. Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell, and Mathew Wade will take up the rest of the batting positions. Maxwell could also turn his arm over with his wily off spinners. Pat Cummins and Hazlewood look set to lead the Australian attack with the new ball while Lyon and Ashton Agar will be the spin contingent in the XI.

Predicted XI:

Bangladesh: Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Imrul Jayes/ Mominal Haque, Sabbir Rahman, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim(C), Liton Das (W/K), Mehedi Hasan, Taijul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman and Taskin Ahmed.

Australia: Matt Renshaw, David Warner, Steve Smith (C), Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell, Mathew Wade (W/K), Ashton Agar, Nathan Lyon, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.

Stat Attack:

3 – Wickets required by Nathan Lyon to pick 250 Test wickets. He will be the 8th Australian to achieve that landmark.

50 – Both Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan will be playing their 50th Test match

2 – Wickets required by Taijul Islam to complete 50 Test wickets.

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