Getting ready for some real cricket
Two days before their first Test in 13 months there was some good news for Bangladesh. Mohammad Ashraful, who missed the final one-dayer against India, and Khaled Mashud, rumoured to have been injured during practice, trained today. Mushfiqur Rahim, who would have replaced Mashud, was not seen at the nets and Bangladesh are likely to field a full strength side against india. They might also give Saqibul Hasan, who impressed during the one-dayers, his first Test cap.
Their squad, like India's, has a different - a more experienced - look than the one-day team. Dashers like Tamim Iqbal and Aftab Ahmed have been excluded. Shahriar Nafees, who had a good series against Australia last year, should open the innings, and Saqibul is likely to replace Aftab. Enamul Haque jnr will partner Mohammad Rafique as the second spinner.
The black sightscreen has become white. The impetus during fielding sessions has shifted from flat throws from the deep to catches at slips, silly point, and forward short leg. This is real cricket, every Bangladeshi cricketer acknowledges. But they aren't considered as big a threat in Tests as they are in one-dayers, even after nearly embarrassing stronger nations on two occasions. The last time they played a Test series was against Australia in April 2006 and they came close to upsetting them in the first match, before being outplayed in the second. They get very little four-day or five-day cricket to play and man to man, the Indians have played more Tests than the Bangladeshis have played first-class games.
That they haven't played a Test match in over a year says a lot given that they've played played 38 one-dayers over the same duration. But Bangladesh will look to emulate their one-day route: win to keep playing and Habibul Bashar, the captain, was optmistic of his team's chances despite concerns over lack of Test experience.
"It's really worrying that we haven't played any Test cricket in over a year," Bashar told reporters. "But it is the right time for us to return to Test cricket. We have been playing good cricket and the number of performing cricketers in the team has also increased significantly in the last year."
Sidharth Monga is a staff writer with Cricinfo Magazine