The one-off Test pits a dominant Indian side against a Bangladesh team full of promise
The one-off Test match between India and Bangladesh in Hyderabad commencing tomorrow will be a historic day for Bangladesh cricket, as India host them for the first time in 17 years, after facing each other in five Test series’ since their inaugural test match in 2000. Competing against India at Test level will be a mighty task for Bangladesh, especially in India, and expecting them to dominate will be nothing but illusory, given the kind of form India is in, but it will be unfair to write them off either.
Not so long ago, Bangladesh defeated a full-strength England team by 104 runs in the 2nd Test match in Dhaka, after losing to England in the first match, to level the two-match Test series 1-1. Since a series win over the West Indies in the Caribbean back in 2009, England is the only higher-ranked side Bangladesh has defeated in a Test match, and they have been unfortunate to not play much Test cricket in the past 18 months.
There is no doubt that Bangladesh is an improved side and have experienced, in-form players in Shakib-Al-Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur Rahim, making them a strong batting unit. Mominul Haque at number 3 is another fine talent, and a consistent performer who has scored heavily for Bangladesh. It will be interesting to see how Bangladesh handle the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. The spin duo has flustered the best of batting line ups in recent times, and is the foremost reason for India’s dominance at home.
Bangladesh has also produced some promising fast bowlers in Mustafizur Rahman and Taskin Ahmed, and the spinners, experienced Shakib-Ul-Hasan and the young off spinner Mahedi Hasan Miraz, can trouble Indian batsmen if the wicket provides assistance to the slow bowlers. Hasan Miraz, in his debut series against England, took 19 wickets, which included three five-wicket hauls, and he was instrumental in Bangladesh’s historic win.
The most exciting prospect for Bangladesh, and a potential threat to India, will be Mustafizur Rahman, who has experience of the Hyderabad wicket playing for the IPL champions, Sunrisers Hyderabad. Rahman has been injured, and Bangladesh will be hoping for him to get fit for the Test. It may be too ambitious to have expectations from a 21-year old left arm fast bowler who has just played two test matches, but with his smart and subtle variations in the shortest format, he has already gained a great reputation. In the recent away Test series against New Zealand, the remarkable performance of Shakib-Al-Hasan who scored his first double hundred and was involved in a record 5th wicket partnership of 359 runs with Mushfiqur Rahim, showed the class and Bangladesh batsmen’s adaptability to different conditions, against a strong bowling unit.
It will be interesting to see if India play with the same squad that won 3-0 against England, or if they test their bench strength. The players with fitness concerns will once again be under the watchful eyes of the selectors, ahead of crucial Test series against Australia. Virat Kohli has had a torrid time with his openers, as they struggled to remain fit. The likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay and KL Rahul will contend with each other for the opening spot. The youngster Rahul, who was unlucky to be dismissed for 199 in the previous Test match against England, has made full use of the opportunities given to him when one of the two other openers was not fit. Karun Nair, who made headlines with an unbeaten triple hundred in the final Test against England, may not find it easy to keep his place in the playing XI once the injured Ajinkya Rahane makes a comeback to the squad.
The selectors still look bemused over the picking of a wicketkeeper. If Wriddhiman Saha is struggling with fitness, then Parthiv Patel doesn’t always look too confident behind the stumps. But, Parthiv’s contribution in the recently concluded Test series, and his match- winning knock in the Ranji Trophy final against a strong Mumbai side gave Gujarat their first ever Ranji title, and his valiant efforts cannot be disregarded.
It will be fascinating to see how Mushfiqur Rahim leads his young and dynamic side against the impregnable Indians, in home conditions. Will it be another spellbinding performance by Virat Kohli’s men, or will Bangladesh manage a minor miracle?
Images: Bangladesh Cricket