'Will definitely miss Saqlain' - Gazi
Sohag Gazi, the Bangladesh offspinner, admitted he will miss spin bowling consultant Saqlain Mushtaq as he prepares for the home series against New Zealand.
This will be Gazi's second series without Saqlain, who has a 100-day per year contract with the BCB. Saqlain was with the team for the West Indies series in 2012 and the tour of Zimbabwe in May this year and although he had announced intentions of joining the team last month, the BCB's cricket operations committee preferred to use his services for the World T20 at home next March.
"I will definitely miss him," Gazi told ESPNcricinfo. "He won't be here all the time. I will try to use his advice. We have had a lot of discussions about bowling and specific field settings. He shared a lot of tips with me. His words are sometimes so inspiring that it brings out the best in a cricketer."
Gazi's preparations have included a lot of bowling and chatting with senior spinners like Abdur Razzak before the first Test begins in Chittagong on Wednesday.
"I have been talking to Shakib bhai and [Abdur Razzak] Raj bhai, about playing in Chittagong because I have never played a Test match here," he said. "They have told me to stay positive. The spinners will look to bowl at a proper length, and be strict with our lines."
Gazi had benefited greatly from Saqlain's presence last year in his debut Test series against West Indies. He spent hours with the former Pakistan offspinner ahead and during that Test and ODI series, learning about the length to bowl, flight variations and field settings, among other things. He ended up with 12 wickets in the two Tests and nine in the five ODIs.
Faced with the challenge of bowling away from home in Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe earlier this year, Gazi bowled far too quickly and was at times predictable, though he picked up 14 wickets in four Tests. He was not picked in the three-match ODI series against Zimbabwe, which served as a reminder that even good form in Test cricket doesn't guarantee anything at this level.
He was put on A team duty but the tour to England turned out to be a wretched one: Gazi claimed five wickets in seven matches at an average of 70, and a strike-rate of 75.60. His recent Dhaka Premier League performance, though, makes better reading with 10 wickets from six games for Prime Doleshwar Sporting Club.
"The England tour was a tough one," Gazi said. "I will have to bounce back from that. I am working very hard, doing a lot of spot-bowling. I have made some flight variations, so I am hoping to use it in the series." Gazi will compete with Razzak for a place in the starting XI.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here