'Biggest challenge will be SA bowlers' - Hathurasingha
Persistent rain in Chittagong meant much of Bangladesh's training on Monday was kept to the indoor nets of the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium. And it was clear what Bangladesh are preparing for: the South African pace attack.
Soumya Sarkar, who likes taking on the short ball, concentrated on strengthening his defence against them. One of the other newcomers, Litton Das, had a long stint with the bowling machine, tackling quick deliveries angled in at him.
"The biggest challenge will be their bowlers," coach Chandika Hathurusingha said. "They have a world-class attack in Tests. How our batsmen handle their fast bowlers will have a big impact on the outcome. We have to play to our potential. Imrul Kayes, Tamim Iqbal and Mominul Haque are world-class as well. Then we have Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib al Hasan. But this is what you get at the top of cricket. The battle will be at the start of the game. Reverse swing may come into play in the last two days. SG balls tend to reverse."
But with Bangladesh having come from behind to beat South Africa 2-1 in the one-day series only last week, Test captain Mushfiqur is hopeful of capitalising on that feel-good factor.
"There is a sense of confidence in the dressing room because of the way we came back in such a manner against a team like South Africa," he said. "We have never faced them with this kind of a mentality to get such a good result and get this confidence.
"Although Test cricket is a different ball game, this is still an opportunity. That's because everyone is in good form. We just have to work hard and play well for five days. It will certainly be a challenge to play against their pace attack."
One that Bangladesh didn't quite master the last time they faced South Africa at home. In the Chittagong Test of 2008, Dale Steyn took seven wickets and Jacques Kallis struck Aftab Ahmed. Bangladesh lost by an innings and 205 runs. Tamim batted over an hour for only nine runs in the second innings. Mushfiqur made 15 and four. Shakib managed 40 in the first innings but was undone by a very quick Steyn delivery in the second.
To keep from repeating those mistakes, Hathurusingha said he wants Bangladesh to play aggressive cricket and win the key moments when they come.
"The mindset will be to play high-tempo cricket. We want to play aggressive cricket, believe in ourselves. We have to play big moments intelligently as well. I am very confident with our Test team as well. We have a really good bunch of players which suits this condition. Mominul coming into the team gives us stability at the top. Imrul is also among the runs in the last series.
"If I believed in momentum, I don't think we would have come back after losing three matches [at the start of the South Africa tour]. It is all about executing our plans to get ahead of the game. We have to start well and put opposition under pressure. Test cricket is playing the big moments well and getting ahead of the situation. We will have a big impact."
With an attacking legspinner in Jubair Hossain and Mustafizur Rahman's X-factor, Hathurusingha is also confident that Bangladesh's current bowling attack, regardless of the combination of the playing XI, can take 20 wickets.
"He [Jubair Hossain] will have a bigger impact in Bangladesh cricket going forward. No doubt about it. He is a wicket-taker so we will use him as an attacking weapon against any team in Test cricket. We have a bowling attack that can take 20 wickets. We have Shakib, our highest wicket-taker and Taijul Islam, who has been very successful with SG balls.
"We have Mustafizur and Rubel Hossain; Mohammad Shahid is a workhorse. I am more confident than before with this bowling attack. Having a left-armer in any bowling attack is a different thing. It takes the conditions out of the equation because he [Mustafizur] gives a different angle. It is an advantage for any team. Whenever we can get him into the Test team, it is an advantage."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84