Draw against SA would be a big achievement - Imrul
Bangladesh opener Imrul Kayes believes a draw in the first Test against South Africa, the No. 1 ranked Test side, in Chittagong, will be a "big achievement" for Bangladesh. The hosts beat South Africa for the first time in an ODI series last week and Imrul hoped the team could take the confidence gained from the ODIs into the Test format as well. The first Test in Chittagong starts from July 21.
"I think a batting-friendly pitch would be best for us," Imrul said in Chittagong. "If we can score over 400 runs and they match us, the game will go towards a draw. Against the No 1 Test team in the world, a draw would be a big achievement.
"The team is in a good rhythm. We won the last four ODI series at home. I think that if we can replicate our ODI form into the Tests, there will be something good for Bangladesh."
Imrul's wish for a batting track could come true as Zahid Reza Babu, the pitch curator of Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong, has traditionally delivered pitches that favour the batsmen heavily. Imrul, however, admitted that the spinners will ultimately be required to do most of the work.
"Our spinners take more wickets in almost all our home series," he said. "We don't have pitches on which pace bowlers can take five-six wickets. So the spinners will once again need to pick up wickets. Shakib and Taijul will have to lead the way, bowl well and take wickets."
Bangladesh's reliance can be gauged from the fact that in the eight home Tests since January 2014, their spinners have taken 91 of the 110 wickets to fall to bowlers. Shakib Al Hasan leads the way with 33 wickets in eight Tests, with Taijul contributing 27 wickets in six Tests.
Among Bangladesh's Tests specialists, Imrul has been in good form. He made 150 in the second innings against Pakistan in the Khulna Test and also struck 72 against India in Fatullah. Imrul said he was confident he could handle the South African pace attack, which will include Dale Steyn - who had been rested for the limited-overs leg of the tour - and Vernon Philander in addition to Morne Morkel.
"Opening the batting is definitely challenging. The first spell is bowled by the best bowlers and whatever help there is from the pitch is at the start of the game," he said. "If the openers can fight through this early period and score runs, it makes life easier for the rest of the batting line-up.
"Almost every bowling attack in the world has guys bowling 140-145kph regularly. But we cannot think too much about it. We are playing positive cricket and by being consistent, we can handle their pace attack. I made my debut in South Africa and I have played Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. It was in different conditions but I hope here I won't have any problems."
Both Bangladesh and South Africa will not train over the weekend due to the Eid holidays. In the Bangladesh team, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Litton Das and Taijul Islam have stayed back in Chittagong while the other players have gone home to celebrate Eid.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84