Bashar dropped for second Test
Habibul Bashar, Bangladesh's most experienced batsman, has been dropped for the second Test against South Africa, which starts on Friday. Rajin Saleh, who was rested for the first Test, has been drafted into the 12-man squad.
Bashar, a former captain, has played in all but two of Bangladesh's 52 Tests since they were granted Test status in 2000. However, he has endured a rough patch off late, going without a half-century for two years, since the Fatullah Test against Australia in 2006.
"Though he [Bashar] is experienced, he is suffering from a lack of runs," Bangladesh coach Jamie Siddons told reporters on the eve of the Test. Bangladesh's two main worries revolved around Bashar and wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim, who has made single-digit scores in his last seven Test innings.
While Bashar, already axed from the one-day side, was dropped, Rahim was reportedly persisted with because of Siddons' faith in his ability.
Ashwell Prince, the South African vice-captain, said his fellow batsmen needed to come good after their disappointing show in the first innings of the Dhaka Test. "We must take full responsibility for what happened in the first innings in Dhaka. Now our batsmen must dominate the bowling," he told the Independent Online website. "There were no demons in that pitch. There were a few balls that kept low. The bottom line is that we lacked the key element of application when we batted."
Prince, who reckoned the Chittagong pitch would be batsman-friendly, felt South Africa needed a 400-run cushion to put pressure on the home side. "We must score 400-plus in our first innings - we've got to do that to give our bowlers enough time to bowl out the opposition," he said. "The pitch at this ground is far different from the one we played on in Dhaka. The colour of the clay at this track is different - it's much lighter in texture, similar to the track at Fatullah Stadium where we played the warm-up game."
South Africa had their first practice session in Chittagong on Wednesday, and coach Mickey Arthur indicated it would be a toss-up between selecting a spinner or Andre Nel. "We not to sure whether we should go in with a spinner for this Test or give Andre a run," he said. "It's an option we have been juggling with for a while. Andre's fit and he needs to bowl here, that's the main reason for considering that option." Makhaya Ntini, meanwhile, is just one wicket short of going past Allan Donald's 330 Test wickets, which will put him next to Shaun Pollock among South African wicket-takers in Tests.
Graeme Smith, who will be leading South Africa for a record 54th Test, indicated left-arm spinner Robin Peterson might play in place of Johan Botha, the offspinner. "We might see a change in spinner because maybe the left-armer will give us more variety," Smith told the website SuperSport. He also said the onus was on the batsmen to put up a big score. "From what I understand, the pitch will be quite good for the first three days, so it's of crucial importance that we have a big score in the first innings."
South Africa lead the two-match series 1-0 after sealing a five-wicket victory in Dhaka. Bangladesh's last Test in Chittagong was in May last year, when rain helped them draw the first Test against India. In the two previous Tests on the same ground - Chittagong Divisional Stadium - they went down to Sri Lanka and Australia by big margins. The Test will also mark the final appearance of Mohammad Rafique, the left-arm spinner, who is two short of becoming the first Bangladesh bowler to take 100 Test wickets.
Bangladesh (from) Tamim Iqbal, Shahriar Nafees, Rajin Saleh, Mohammad Ashraful (capt), Aftab Ahmed, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mashrafe Mortaza, Abdur Razzak, Junaid Siddique, Mohammad Rafique, Shahadat Hossain.
South Africa (from) Graeme Smith (capt), Neil McKenzie, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, Ashwell Prince, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Mark Boucher (wk), Johan Botha, Robin Peterson, Morne Morkel, Andre Nel, Makhaya Ntini, Dale Steyn.