Will spin woes ease for West Indies?
Bangladesh v West Indies, October 29 - November 2, Mirpur
Start time 0930 (0330 GMT)
It is exactly 25 years since West Indies were spun out by Abdul Qadir for 53, to date the lowest Test score in Pakistan. Back then, such collapses were freak occurrences for West Indies, but things have changed drastically since.
On the current tour, they have been caught napping more than once by Bangladesh's army of left-armers. After subsiding to a shocking 61 all out in the third ODI, they were exposed by the home team's newest recruit, Elias Sunny, in the first Test. West Indies will be relieved that the action now shifts out of spinner-friendly Chittagong, but that won't be reason enough for them to drop their guard.
There was little to take out of Chittagong after the ground's ridiculous drainage facilities robbed the match of two full days of action. Still, Mushfiqur Rahim's adventurous declarations ensured that the moral victories went Bangladesh's way. The West Indies batsmen faced no scoreboard pressure when they eventually took guard on the fourth afternoon, but the bulk of the top order - Kirk Edwards, Kraigg Brathwaite and Darren Bravo in specific - were hopelessly exposed by the turn. To make matters worse, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Lendl Simmons - two of their better players of spin - picked up injuries, which must have hampered their preparation for the second Test even if they recover in time.
West Indies will be hoping for a little more zip and carry in Mirpur to help their quietly impressive new-ball attack, while Bangladesh's spinners will have less assistance. The visitors will be anxious for victory for there's more than just the series at stake. The home supporters will welcome even a drawn series, but if Bangladesh manage to win, it will be their first series victory against any full-strength Test team (though in Chris Gayle's absence, it is tough to term this side so), and will give them a 3-3 overall win-loss record against the once-mighty West Indies. Can the tourists' shaky middle order deny them?
West Indies: DDDLL
In the spotlight
What is common to Irfan Pathan, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Shaun Tait, Ajantha Mendis and Peter Siddle? They are all winners of the most significant gong for young and rising talent in the game - the ICC's Emerging Player of the Year award. None of them has quite lived up to the lofty billing bestowed upon them in their opening seasons, while some, like Irfan and Tait, have faded away completely. Which way will the latest winner of the award, Devendra Bishoo, go? He was impressive in the World Cup and in the home season that followed, but in Bangladesh, he has flattered (and flattened his lengths) to deceive. The game needs a spirited legspinner or three, and Bishoo has the skill to fill the void, but only if he shows the guts to toss them up.
The Chittagong Test featured Tamim Iqbal Mark II, a batsman who was willing to - brace yourselves for this one - leave balls outside off stump. He also consciously kept getting behind the line and defending balls that weren't in his half. However, in both innings, he threw away hours of hard work by inevitably going for a fancy stroke at an inopportune moment. His show led sceptics to believe he was still susceptible to bouts of restlessness, while others were impressed by the patience he showed before imploding. Which version of Tamim will turn up in Mirpur?
West Indies will sweat on the fitness of Chanderpaul and Simmons. If either of them misses out, Kieran Powell will expect to come into the XI. Bishoo also had an injury scare in the latter stages of the first Test, but is expected to be available in Mirpur. Darren Bravo, Brathwaite and Kirk Edwards may have done just enough to hold onto their spots. Kemar Roach should continue to carry drinks since there is only room for two fast bowlers in the XI, in addition to Darren Sammy's medium pace.
West Indies (probable): 1 Lendl Simmons / Kieran Powell, 2 Kraigg Brathwaite, 3 Kirk Edwards, 4 Darren Bravo, 5 Marlon Samuels, 6 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 7 Darren Sammy (capt), 8 Carlton Baugh (wk), 9 Ravi Rampaul, 10 Fidel Edwards, 11 Devendra Bishoo
Bangladesh have no reason to fiddle with their line-up. The clock is ticking for Imrul Kayes, though, whose shoddy return at the top of the order is a prime cause for concern. However, given the lack of viable alternatives in the squad, he is likely to get another opportunity.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Imrul Kayes, 3 Shahriar Nafees, 4 Raqibul Hasan, 5 Shakib Al Hasan, 6 Mushfiqur Rahim (capt & wk), 7 Naeem Islam, 8 Nasir Hossain, 9 Elias Sunny, 10 Rubel Hossain, 11 Shahadat Hossain
Pitch and conditions
The seamers excelled in the ODIs that were held in Mirpur, while stroke-players like Simmons enjoyed the ball coming onto the bat. Traditionally, seamers have averaged 33.50 runs per wicket here, which is over five runs less than the corresponding number for spinners. There's no rain forecast through the course of the match, and temperatures are expected to be in the high 20s.
Stats & Trivia
- Shahadat Hossain and Shakib Al Hasan have been Bangladesh's best bowlers in Mirpur, accounting for 13 wickets apiece
- Shivnarine Chanderpaul has 23 Test hundreds, putting him fourth on the all-time list for West Indies. He is one ton away from drawing level with Viv Richards
"We are not too worried about the wicket. It should be easier to bat on this wicket. I hope our batsmen keep this in mind and get a big score, so that the bowlers can put pressure on West Indies."
Mushfiqur Rahim asks his top order to bat big
"You know if you go to England you expect the ball to seam. If you go to Australia or South Africa you expect the ball to bounce. When you come to the subcontinent you should expect the ball to spin. We are aware of that and we have to play spinners much better."
Darren Sammy says the spin hasn't caught his troops by surprise
Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo