Mushfiqur scents 'opportunity' to beat SA
Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim is confident that his team can beat South Africa in Mirpur following the hosts' impressive performance in the Chittagong Test.
South Africa have never lost a Test match or series to Bangladesh in the sub-continent since 2006. It is a record that South Africa would not like to taint but Bangladesh have given them food for thought after dominating the visitors for much of the first Test, which had the last two days washed out by rain.
Still, the gulf of class between the two sides is immense, and not just in their ICC Test rankings, where they are separated by eight places. Tests between Bangladesh and South Africa have mostly been one-sided, but Mushfiqur believes times have changed, and that Bangladesh have a big opportunity to reverse the tables.
"We have to play good cricket over five days," Mushfiqur said. "We cannot win on the first day. This is a five-day game. This is a big challenge and also an opportunity. We are playing against the No. 1 team in the world so it is an opportunity. It will be a huge deal to beat them.
"We played with dominance in each sense of the first Test. So from that sense, the target is to play well. Our bowling unit has the ability to take their 20 wickets and you know what a good result will be - Bangladesh winning by a 1-0 margin."
Mushfiqur said bowling South Africa out for 248 runs was a big boost to their bowlers, and he is hopeful that his team will stick to a performance which is similar to their current form.
"It is possible, definitely. But the truth is, we are not very consistent in Tests. But considering current form, Bangladesh are doing quite well in both Tests and ODIs. From this we are getting a lot of confidence. The bowlers now believe that if they are bowling properly, even a team like South Africa can be bowled out for a low total."
Mushfiqur, though, is still wary of South Africa's threat in their preparation and how they will go about their business on the field. "This confidence runs throughout the Bangladesh team and I hope we see the influence of this confidence in the next match. We have to play our best cricket in Dhaka since this is the last match.
"South Africa know how to play in this situation. They are the No. 1 Test team. Their bowling usually goes to plan. If we can apply ourselves well, the result could go our way. Even the series," he said.
Despite Bangladesh's success over the last two months, Mushfiqur has not had a great time on the field as a batsman. His last Test fifty was back in October, against Zimbabwe in Dhaka, and he has been without a 50-plus score for 10 innings.
"Every batsman and bowler has a personal target, which is to have the most contribution for the team. I think the last few Tests have not gone like I had wanted. Definitely it is quite disappointing for me. But my team is doing well so in a way this is relief for me. I hope to give 100% for the team and I want to contribute in a big way."
Mushfiqur also confirmed he will not be keeping wickets for the third match in a row as his ring finger, which he injured in April during the first Test against Pakistan, had not healed fully. He, however, quickly quashed suggestions that he will quit the gloves completely, saying he enjoyed wicketkeeping more than batting.
"For the time being, I am not keeping in tomorrow's match," Mushfiqur said. "I will try to make a return to keeping. My primary job is to keep wickets but my finger isn't 100% healed. I hope to recover quickly. I hope to do both my jobs properly.
"Can anyone leave everything so easily? There's no question about it as far as I am concerned. It will be a different issue if it is a matter of team combination. I enjoy keeping more than batting. It is not something I want to leave."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84