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Player of the Match
Player of the Match

It's spin v spin and Shakib v Rashid as Bangladesh take on Afghanistan

Rashid Khan and Shakib Al Hasan, top-class performers now tasked with taking their teams in a new direction BCB

Big Picture

The bourgeoning rivalry between Bangladesh and Afghanistan begins its Test chapter with a spin duel likely to be the highlight in what is expected to be helpful conditions in Chattogram. Rain, however, could well play a major role in the proceedings, and the stop-start affair could well make the batsmen's lives more miserable.

The two sides are also led by top-class spinners: Shakib Al Hasan and Rashid Khan. Shakib's spectacular 2019 World Cup has made him one of the game's major global stars - if he wasn't already - and now he is tasked with reviving the fortunes of the team after an indifferent few months. Rashid has somewhat emulated Shakib in terms of becoming his team's main man, winning them games with the ball as well as becoming a competent lower-order hitter and gun fielder. Much of that, though, has been restricted to the white-ball formats.

ALSO READ: Five challenges for new Afghanistan captain Rashid Khan

Rashid's new role as Afghanistan captain in all formats gives him a lot more responsibility. He would definitely look forward to his batsmen, especially the likes of Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi and Asghar Afghan, to tackle Bangladesh's four-man spin attack - Shakib, Taijul Islam, Mehidy Hasan and Nayeem Hasan, who took all 40 wickets during the last home series, against West Indies last year. The tricky part for the Afghan batsmen would be to rein themselves in and avoid the big hits, which isn't going to be easy for long periods in a Test match.

ALSO READ: Bangladesh look to take the pace off again

Rashid and Mohammad Nabi will be the main bowlers, and they can call upon left-arm wristspinner Zahir Khan and legspinner Qais Ahmed for a four=pronged spin attack similar to what Bangladesh will have.

For the home side, which is without Tamim Iqbal, the concern would be to replace the experience at the top. How Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib and Mahmudullah bat in the middle-order becomes key, while Liton Das and Mominul Haque would no doubt need to step up.

Form guide

(Last five completed matches, most recent first)

Bangladesh: LLWWW
Afghanistan: LW (only two Test matches so far)

In the spotlight

After a brilliant World Cup, Shakib Al Hasan is back playing for Bangladesh after a rest, during which Bangladesh toured Sri Lanka for an ODI series. He has been tasked to lead the side into a new era, albeit reluctantly.

How will Rashid Khan the bowler fare after becoming the captain, is a critical question for Afghanistan. He will be the man Bangladesh's batsmen watch out for as well as target, and as much as they would like to wear him out, pitch and conditions in Chattogram could assist Rashid's type of accurate, stump-to-stump spin bowling.

Team news

Shakib and Mushfiqur, having missed Bangladesh's New Zealand Test series, will replace Tamim and Mustafizur Rahman. This is likely to push Soumya Sarkar to open with Shadman Islam, while Abu Jayed could be the token pace bowler.

Bangladesh (probable): 1 Soumya Sarkar, 2 Shadman Islam, 3 Mominul Haque, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim, 5 Shakib Al Hasan (capt), 6 Mahmudullah, 7 Liton Das (wk), 8 Mehidy Hasan, 9 Taijul Islam, 10 Nayeem Hasan, 11 Abu Jayed

Afghanistan have three obvious changes to make from the side that played their last Test against Ireland. Mohammad Shahzad, Wafadar Momand and Waqar Salamkheil are all out of the reckoning, and could be replaced by Ibrahim Zadran, Zahir Khan and Qais Ahmed.

Afghanistan (probable): 1 Ihsanullah, 2 Ibrahim Zadran, 3 Rahmat Shah, 4 Hashmatullah Shahidi, 5 Asghar Afghan, 6 Mohammad Nabi, 7 Ikram Alikhil (wk), 8 Rashid Khan (capt), 9 Yamin Ahmadzai, 10 Qais Ahmed, 11 Zahir Khan

Pitch and conditions

The curator here, Zahid Reza, has often produced sporting pitches, as much as it is possible while keeping the home team happy. Particularly in the 2016 Bangladesh v England Test, the evenness and consistency of turn and bounce ensured a good game of cricket. But rain has been forecast for all five days, and that could be a bummer.

Stats that matter

  • Taijul is one strike away from becoming the third Bangladeshi bowler to reach 100 Test wickets. The other two are Shakib and Mohammad Rafique.

  • Bangladesh have never won their maiden Tests against their previous opponents.

  • The uncapped Ibrahim was the standout performer during Afghanistan A's tour of Bangladesh last month, having made 482 runs with a century and three fifties.

Quotes

"I have to bowl a lot of overs at home, so it is slightly difficult to bat up the order. Maybe in the future if I bowl less, then maybe I can bat higher up the order. Concentration levels are important for a batsman, so I must be fresh. It is better then to bat down the order."
Shakib Al Hasan on whether he will also bat up the order in Tests.

"Everyone is matured. It is not like we are playing for the national team for the first time. They have played enough cricket. I tell them to keep enjoying, on and off the field."
Rashid Khan on whether he will need to calm down the dressing room's excitement.

Bangladesh 4th innings Partnerships

WktRunsPlayers
1st30Liton DasShadman Islam
2nd22Mosaddek HossainShadman Islam
3rd26Mushfiqur RahimShadman Islam
4th4Mominul HaqueShadman Islam
5th24Shakib Al HasanShadman Islam
6th19MahmudullahShakib Al Hasan
7th18Shakib Al HasanSoumya Sarkar
8th23Soumya SarkarMehidy Hasan Miraz
9th0Taijul IslamSoumya Sarkar
10th7Soumya SarkarNayeem Hasan