Mushfiqur confident of taking 20 wickets
Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim has plenty to ponder, particularly after he became the first international cricketer to talk openly about the 'position paper' on Saturday. His focus has shifted to the Test match at hand, and although he sounds tired, the best thought in his mind right now might be to recall how he took on the Sri Lanka attack in Galle last March.
He scored the country's first Test double-hundred, helping the side to its first drawn game against Sri Lanka. He hasn't scored a Test century since that innings, but has played vital knocks in the Test win against Zimbabwe, and in home ODIs against New Zealand. During this time, his leadership qualities have seen some success, as Bangladesh continued to have one better year after another since he took over. There have been bad times too, like when he prematurely resigned after losing in Zimbabwe, but throughout all this, he has kept his own batting form intact.
"I want to bat consistently," Mushfiqur said. "This is the first Test of the year so I hope that whenever I get set, I should get a big score. I want to make as much contribution for the team as possible.
"We are playing to win, so if our performers raise their hand, anything is possible in this Test match. We want to continue playing consistent cricket as we have played at home recently. If we do so over the next five days, even a loss wouldn't feel bad. We played very well in Sri Lanka last year. We lost the Test series because we couldn't play to our potential in the second Test."
His comfort at the helm means that now he has come to a position from where he believes that results will only come with an extra push. Mushfiqur believes that if the pace bowlers can put in their contribution, it will be easier for the batsmen and spinners.
"Our batting is getting consistent, and for them too, batting strength is much heavier than their bowling," Mushfiqur said. "The challenge will be for our pace bowlers, who are yet to play to their full potential. I hope they keep on improving as they have in the last 12 months.
"They have to take wickets but at the same time, create consistent pressure. I hope they deliver this time. I am sure we can take 20 wickets. We should take the most help from the wicket, grab the chances that come our way. If the pace bowlers give us a good start, then our spinners can come together and bowl them out twice."
Mushfiqur's other source of confidence is the batting form of most of the top and middle order, including himself. Tamim Iqbal has done well recently, and so have Mominul Haque, Shakib Al Hasan and Nasir Hossain. He can expect either of Imrul Kayes and Shamsur Rahman to bat positively while Marshall Ayub has another chance to cement his place.
Bangladesh have also begun to start matches very well, scoring big in the first innings. Against Sri Lanka last year, they put on 638 while against New Zealand, they made 501. Their worst showing this year was when they couldn't handle Zimbabwe's seam and bounce, to be bowled out for 134. Like Shakib, Mushfiqur too wants sporting wickets, which he feels will keep them prepared for foreign conditions.
"We have now improved our batting in the first innings, put up good totals," Mushfiqur said. "A lot of things happen in the second innings but we have planned ahead this time. We are well prepared, so hopefully this will be an interesting series.
"Sporting wicket was a requirement, but I am sure the wicket will be very good. Whoever will apply himself on this surface, will get success out of it, be it a pace bowler, spinner or batsman. We should play more Tests in such sporting wickets so that we can do well abroad too."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here