Siddons aims for more consistency
Bangladesh will make two changes to their side for the second Test against England at Dhaka on Saturday, as their coach, Jamie Siddons, seeks a higher level of discipline with both bat and ball following their 181-run defeat in Chittagong last week.
Their new-ball bowler, Shadahat Hossain, has been dropped to make way for Shafiul Islam, while Aftab Ahmed's place at No. 4 has been taken by the uncapped Jahurul Islam, who joined the squad on the eve of the first Test following Raqibul Hasan's shock "retirement" from international cricket.
"This was definitely a moment I have looked forward to since I became a cricket player. The dream of playing cricket at Test level has always been my chief motivation," said Jahurul. "I have been in good form coming into the national team and I will take the confidence of the runs I had scored into the Test match."
Meanwhile Raqibul's potential return to the team has been delayed after he was handed a three-month suspension by the board despite Siddons being optimistic that a decision that he described last week as "rash and foolish" would soon be forgotten.
"We've spoken to him, but it is still up to a board decision to release him back to play," said Siddons. "That's not happening yet so he's left his run a little bit late. I would have had him back no problem but there's a few little delays happening. Hopefully we'll have him back for the England tour and the Asia Cup."
After a torrid start to the Chittagong Test, in which Bangladesh slumped to 51 for 3 after conceding a hefty 599 for 6 declared, the team settled down to produce three decent days of Test cricket, with their batsmen amassing 627 runs across their two innings, while restricting England to 209 for 7 second time around. However, Siddons remains frustrated by such peaks and troughs, and wants an improved focus at Dhaka.
"The one thing we're aiming for is to be consistent," said Siddons. "All of our top order - apart from our No. 4 position - are centurions in Test cricket now, and they have all made them in the last four months. But we're still having Mahmudullah making a fifty then nothing, Tamim [Iqbal] 80 then nothing, Shakib [Al Hasan] nothing then a score. To get scores of 400 you need more consistency than that.
"To make 630 over two innings against England was a reasonable effort, but we're still probably 150 short. Our players are all confident of performing at this level and they'll be confident of performing on that wicket. We just need them to put it together in the same match. That's what England did to us, and it's what we need to do back to them if we want to be successful.
"We bowled, I think, nine maidens in 145 overs [138.3]," said Siddons. "It's ridiculous, and it's not good enough. Test cricket should be a game where you have to work a lot harder for your runs, but we couldn't bowl one side of the wicket, and when we wanted to bowl at the wickets we couldn't do that either. We also need to make more runs in the first innings. We batted on probably the flattest day, and only made 296, and that probably wasn't anywhere near enough."
One aspect of Bangladesh's performance that will change, however, will be their decision if they win the toss. At Chittagong, Shakib called correctly but chose to field first, a move that Siddons later admitted was the wrong one. This time, with another spin-friendly surface in prospect, there's no doubt that they be aiming to put a score on the board first-up.
"If the wicket plays the way we expect it to, and day one should be flat, if we win the toss we will bat," said Siddons. "And if we do bowl I hope we put the ball in better areas and make them work a little harder for their runs. I expect it to turn a bit more towards the end of the game, because the footmarks play a bigger part on this wicket. Hopefully it will turn from day one, but we won't be taking that risk.
For me, as usual, it's about us playing our game as well as we can," he added. "I've got no expectations, I just want our players to play well. Each day is different, so our expectations change every day, according to the situation of the game. But I expect us to play pretty good cricket. It's our home conditions, and we played reasonably well at Chittagong, but we'll need nearer 700 [runs in the match] to win the game here."
Bangladesh 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Imrul Kayes, 3 Junaid Siddique, 4 Jahurul Islam, 5 Mahmudullah, 6 Shakib Al Hasan (capt), 7 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 8 Naeem Islam, 9 Abdur Razzak, 10 Shafiul Islam, 11 Rubel Hossain.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo. Go to http://twitter.com/miller_cricket to follow him on Twitter through the England tour of Bangladesh.