Bangladesh v India, 1st Test, Chittagong May 17, 2007

Head to head

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Cricinfo looks at the battles that could make a difference when the first Test between Bangladesh and India begins at Chittagong on Friday.



Sachin Tendulkar will have to contend with three left-arm spinners and the extreme heat at Chittagong © AFP

Habibul Bashar v Anil Kumble
Habibul Bashar, the Bangladesh captain, came under severe criticism during the World Cup for his poor form with the bat and he managed only 0 and 43 in the two ODIs against India at home. His technique, strong in defence and limited in attack, is far more suited to Test cricket than the hectic pace of the limited-overs game. However, where India's attack during the ODIs was inexperienced during the middle-overs, Bashar will have Anil Kumble's 113-matches worth of guile to contend with once the shine wears off. Kumble has ten wickets from two Tests against Bangladesh at an average of just under 15.

Sachin Tendulkar v the left-arm spinners
In recent times, Tendulkar has been troubled by left-arm spinners, especially ones he's not used to facing previously. He was Monty Panesar's first Test wicket at Nagpur in 2006. At Cape Town in January, Tendulkar was dismissed by Paul Harris, another left-arm spinner making his debut, in the first innings and struggled against him so much in the second that Ravi Shastri said "Paul Harris was made to look like Lord Harris." Abdur Razzak deceived him with an arm-ball during the World cup and Bangladesh's Test squad includes four left-arm spinners of which they are likely to play three.

Mashrafe Mortaza v the Indian openers
With Virender Sehwag dropped from the Test squad, India have to find a new partner for Wasim Jaffer. Any one of the middle-order batsmen could step up, it might even be Dinesh Karthik, but whoever it is will not have opened in a Test match for quite a while. That's where Mashrafe Mortaza comes in. If he could knock over the unsettled opening pair, Bangladesh will get a massive boost for India are likely to play only five specialist batsmen, and their battery of spinners will have a headstart when they come on to bowl.

The Indians' fitness v the weather
The weather forecast for Chittagong over the next five says the temperature will be around 35 degrees Celsius with nearly 82% humidity. That translates into extremely hot and sweaty conditions for India's cricketers. Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble are on the wrong side of 30 and Ramesh Powar, Munaf Patel, Zaheer Khan and VRV Singh aren't the fittest cricketers around. Expect them to be queuing up to field in the slip cordon.

George Binoy is an editorial assistant on Cricinfo