Cricket frenzied Bangladesh is eagerly waiting to host formidable Australia for a long awaited Test series. For different reasons it got delayed over a year. Even this tour survived by the skin of the teeth from last minute resolution of long standing disputes between CA and ACA over payments and profit share.
Though heavy rain and forecasted flooding looming yet a very intensely competitive series is on the card. Australian cricketers were without active cricket for a while and looked rusty in the preparation match at Darwin of specially doctored wickets.
Bangladesh with ever growing reputation has the best ever prospect of upsetting Australia in the series. But all will depend whether Bangladesh chose the right team, perfect combination rising above high handedness of few in team management.
There have been media speculations that tried and tested Mahmudullah Riad and automatic choice Mominul Huq may not find place in the team. Mahmudullah Riad with Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim make the nucleus of Bangladesh batting.
If Bangladesh has to compete against strong Australia all four must play and play well. Unless injured there cannot be any thought of discarding Mahmudullah from the team.
Mominul is beyond doubt the best number three batsman in Bangladesh squad in Test cricket. Even in the last practice match, he scored fifty and looked in good shape.
For reasons unknown he is not being treated well in the team for a long time. If he was given right environment, proper mentoring he could grow like Cheteswar Pujara, Ken Williamson or Joe Root by this time.
Any thought of not playing him for whatever be the reason must not be there. He has the skills, technique, temperament and courage for building long innings.
Talented all-rounder Nasir Hossain should get into the side on his own merit in the lower middle order batting. His off spin would add to variety and his razor sharp fielding would be an asset.
I find no justification in axing Mahmudullah or Mominul for creating access of Nasir Hossain.
Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes would be the ideal opening pair followed by Mominul, Mushfiqur, Mahmudullah and Shakib. Sabbir and Nasir both can be in the team and if Bangladesh wants to play with two pacers and three spinners Mehedi Hasan Miraz, Mustafizur Rahman and Shafiul Islam should make the even.
If Taizul Islam needs to be there the choice would be either Sabbir or Nasir. Rubel, Taskin and Mosaddeq would make the squad. I am not sure whether Soumya Sarkar will be the ideal choice for Test or not after his very indifferent recent form.
The above makes the 15 member squad as
Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes , Mominul Haque , Mushfiqur Rahim , Mahmudullah Riyad, Shakib Al Hasan, Nasir Hossain, Mehedi Hasan Miraz, Shafiul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Sabbir Rahman, Mosaddeq Hossain, Taijul Islam, Rubel Hossain and Taskin Ahmed.
Bangladesh batsmen should handle the Aussie pace attack well. Josh Hazlewood is a steady customer of McGrath mould. He keeps bowling consistently at pace in off stump corridor with occasional late swing.
Jackson Bird is a similar line and length bowler but not so accurate like Hazlewood. We are not sure Australia would play three pacers.
Nathan Lyon is the bowler whom Bangladesh should be very careful in handling. We are not sure Ashton Agar, left arm spinner would be too difficult to deal with.
The Queensland legie Swepson is a last minute addition. Australia is carefully maturing him. Leg spinners need bounce. I am not sure whether he will enjoy bowling on flat low surface. But may create issues if wickets have turn.
But to sum it up Tamim, Mahmudullah, Mushfiqur and Shakib must deal with Australian attack carefully and encourage quality youngsters to put in challenging score for bowlers to capitalize.
Now coming to bowling on wickets not favoring pace obviously Mustafiz and Shafiul would be right choice ahead of Taskin and Rubel if only two pacers are played. Both can swing the ball early. If decision is there for three pacers either Taskin or Rubel depending on form and fitness should get in.
Shakib and Miraz would bear the burnt of spin attack. Mahmudullah and Nasir can chip in with useful overs. I would also like to play Taijul if wickets are expected assisting spinners.
Australia in recent times have not played at all well in sub-continent conditions on slow low turning wickets. Bangladesh on the other hand have won Tests in recent times against stronger opposition like England and Sri Lanka.
In longer format of the game, Tigers are still finding its way. But there is experience, quality and talents in the team to give Smith’s Kangaroo troops a hiding.
We are not sure how fit will be premier batsman vice-captain David Warner. Him and captain Smith are the only two world class batsmen in the team who have to play out of their skins against quality Bangladeshi spin attack.
Young Queenslander Renshaw is a quality batsman. But in Bangladesh wicket and condition, he may find difficult dealing with. Usman Khawaja the Pakistan born New South Wales batsman is another batsman expected to bat well.
So is Glen Maxwell for his IPL experience. He will be useful for his spin as well. Ashton Agar is an also competent batsman apart from his left arm spin. He may bat at number six after Peter Handscomb the Victorian tall batsman of immense potential. There is a thought of playing him as wicket keeper.
Absence of star new ball bowler Mitchel Starc will make Hazelwood and Bird carry the bulk of the bowling. But the key of Aussie attack will be Nathan Lyon. Ashton Agar with his accurate left arm spin may also be useful. Maxwell and even Smith may be seen bowling in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh has every reason to believe that Asities can be entangled on spinning track. The team lacks experience and short of match practise after remaining in great tension about their future over payment dispute.
But Bangladesh must not throw away their opportunities with wrong team selection. There must be horses for the courses.
It is difficult for a Bangladeshi Australian cheering all out for one team or the other. It will be a tussle between head and the heart.