Bangladesh v West Indies, 1st Test, Chittagong October 20, 2011

A test for captain, coach and selection panel

Bangladesh's first Test at home in almost two years carries much significance with it

Bangladesh's first Test at home in almost two years carries much significance with it: for Mushfiqur Rahim, making his debut as Test captain, for new coach Stuart Law - who follows two fellow Australians in this job - and for the selection panel, led by Akram Khan, which has taken some bold decisions in picking the squad. And, of course, for those new faces in the squad.

Mushfiqur, Bangladesh's eighth Test captain and the second wicketkeeper to hold the job, has seen his stock rise rapidly in the past six months. His calmness belies his age (23); though excitable, he's always had a sense of being in control and the best compliment comes from his team-mates who say that when he's in charge he keeps things calm.

The concern was that Mushfiqur's poor form behind the stumps and low scores in front of them would hamper his captaincy but - though it's early days - they haven't become an issue. He's developed the art of closing out tight games and he's done reasonably well with the bat, winning a Twenty20 and scoring a fine 69 that brought the team back from the dead in the second ODI; even his wicketkeeping has improved though he still does let the occasional one slip by.

With the players, his biggest challenge was to keep Shakib involved and in the forefront, and he's managed that so far. Shakib will be needed in the Tests as well and given their relationship from school (BKSP), that is unlikely to be a problem. With the others, he's already earned their respect.

The match is also a litmus test for Akram Khan, the former national captain who has found himself and his fellow selectors under increasing pressure. After the Test squad they named against Zimbabwe was questioned by then captain Shakib Al Hasan the latest controversy has risen from the complicated issue of Mohammad Ashraful, who has been dropped from the squad for the upcoming Tests.

Though the drop was inevitable, it has raised questions over the selectors' consistency - especially since Ashraful had top-scored in Bangladesh's last Test. The problem stems from the selectors' preference for all-format selection as opposed to specialised Test selection. It is true that Ashraful hasn't done well in the recent ODIs but what has muddied the waters is the dropping of Alok Kapali and Robiul Islam as well, despite their decent form in the ODIs.

Kapali looked like one of the very few batsmen who was getting used to the West Indies bowlers' shorter length and, while his brief innings in the second ODI was overshadowed by Mushfiqur's longer effort, Kapali fought in a crucial situation. Robiul too showed grit when the bowlers in Harare fell flat on the first day, his 12-over spell standing out as an example of the fight rarely seen among Bangladesh bowlers. Add Raqibul Hasan's inclusion after just two recent half-centuries and it is all making Akram's collective decisions look a bit skewed.

Ashraful's outburst on Wednesday has not helped matters and only a strong showing on the field will allow this situation to die down.

That performance could come from Shahriar Nafees, who looks set for an extended run in the No. 3 spot and will look to make the most of the opportunity. It's a golden chance too for Raqibul Hasan, who wasn't expecting a recall so soon. He has been okay in Test cricket, a different batsman to Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes and Nafees as he likes to stay in. Nasir Hossain is set to debut in Tests after an impressive start to international cricket, his batting offering stability to the middle-lower order. Naeem Islam completes the long batting-line up, making the bowling line-up go through a major reshuffle too.

Left-arm spinner Elias Sunny could also make his debut given Law's public endorsement, while Shahadat Hossain will take up Shafiul's place alongside the improving Rubel Hossain. Sunny, a left-arm spinner who bats quite well, has topped the averages in the Dhaka Premier League and has a good first-class record over the past four-odd seasons. His strength is his control - helpful against a side that looks vulnerable against a tight line on a turning track - and he can bowl long spells.

The worrying factor for the captain and coach, who will decide on the final XI, is the bench strength in Chittagong. Nazmul Hossain played his only Test seven years ago against India, while Suhrawadi Shuvo's last first-class match was in May 2010. Shuvogoto Hom too is an unlikely choice, so selecting the XI could be quite an easy job - and probably less controversial than picking the squad.

Mohammad Isam is senior sports reporter at the Daily Star in Dhaka

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Manesh on October 21, 2011, 5:23 GMT

    nothing will happen..history will repeat....BD will lost all tests by innings...because, WI is more alret now because of that fluke win of BD in the last match.

  • Dummy4 on October 21, 2011, 4:38 GMT

    another gem from Mohammad Isam. rightfully, he shed light in the right areas.

  • Andrew on October 21, 2011, 4:01 GMT

    I think they almost got the squad perfect. My only change would be swapping Kayes for Siddique. To me Kayes has developed into a very useful ODI batsmen, he only averages 17 in tests after 14 matches. Siddique on the other hand has a test ave of 27, but more importantly - it has increased rapidly, Kayes hasn't in Tests. I think Banga sides should have long batting line ups as they probably don't need too many pace bowlers - maybe only one! The fact is - in FC in Bangladesh, pace hardly gets used, so why not just open? I'd select 1. Tamim, 2. Nafees, 3. Siddique, 4. Raqibal, 5. Hom, 6. Rahim, 7. Shakib, 8. Mahmudullah, 9. Nasir, 10. Sunny, 11. Rubel, 12th Naeem. I know this is light on with specialist bowlers, & I believe Mahmudullah is injured, but Shakib will probably bowl over 30 overs a day, it means that the others won't have to do too much work. With Sunny batting @ #10, its a deep line up!

  • Dummy4 on October 21, 2011, 2:12 GMT

    exactly right, they need to be looking at a specialist test squad and putting the other formats secondary, shuvogoto looks made for test cricket as well, so id hope he gets a game soon, and shuvos record was always better in the 4 day game than 1 day cricket, but good move dropping razzak

  • Dummy4 on October 20, 2011, 23:15 GMT

    to be honest razzak is horrendous in test good to see that board noticed that also to axed ash which was good even though he was the top scorer in the last test. He was just basically out of form. I think we should go with three seamers even though it a spin friendly wicket. This will give them a surprising adventage. Nazmul, Rubel & Shahadat wud be the best choice. Good luck to soon to debut Nasir Hossian and Elias Sunny, hope you do well at the hightest level. Maybe soon to be SuperStar at the making for them.....GO BD TIGERS!!!!

  • Dummy4 on October 20, 2011, 18:12 GMT

    How can the WICB agree to enter a test match in which potentially half the team will not have had even a 2-day game under their belts in totally new playing conditions? This is a prescription for failure...further failure.

  • Muhammad Rakibul on October 20, 2011, 17:36 GMT

    Akram has said he will give enough chances to elders to regain form early this year. But now he dropped both Ash & Raz. Dropping Ash may b right as he is averaging poor in all 3 formats (around 23). But Razzak is one of best 3 spinners that BD ever have. So he should b picked over Shuvo/Sunny though his form in test is below standard. His ODI & T-20 record showed how effective he is! So that's a wrong decision by Selection panel.

  • Dik on October 20, 2011, 17:05 GMT

    What they are doing with Nazmul and other fast bowlers are just plain ugly. That's not how you manage your players.

    It is so frustrating to see our board's failure in every possible way!!

  • Dummy4 on October 20, 2011, 16:33 GMT

    good report isam, i hope .. only hope ..

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