Bangladesh v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Chittagong October 25, 2004

Bangladesh pin hopes on spin

Debashish Biswas



Dav Whatmore at practice with local boy Nafis Iqbal © Getty Images

After winning the first Test by the massive margin of an innings and 99 runs, New Zealand will hope to complete their first series win in the subcontinent since Geoff Howarth's side beat Sri Lanka 2-0 over 20 years ago. In Dhaka, Bangladesh were undone by Daniel Vettori, who returned the excellent second-innings figures of 22-13-28-6, but they will expect to put up sterner resistance this time.

"The wicket was quite slow and we got some bounce that helped me a lot. It was good for spinners but not the best." said Vettori. "Patience is key to surviving on such wickets. They can learn a lot from our style of batting in the first innings."

To strengthen their batting, Bangladesh have replaced Hannan Sarkar, who had scored only 54 in his last nine innings, with Aftab Ahmed, who will make his Test debut on his home ground if selected: "I know this wicket better than anybody else and I want to leave my mark in front of fans here." Like Nafis Iqbal, and Enamul Haque junior, who joined the squad to bolster the spin attack, Aftab was part of the side that defeated Australia in the Plate final of the Under-19 World Cup in March this year.

Wicketkeeper Khaled Mashud will continue as captain, since Habibul Bashar has not yet recovered from the thumb injury that ruled him out of the Champions Trophy and the first Test.

The plan for Bangladesh is to bat as long as possible, to make a first-innings score above 300, and try to force the New Zealanders to bat on a wearing pitch. The spin attack is one area in which the Bangladeshis can compete. But it is a scheme that could work for either team according to Khokon, the curator of MA Aziz Stadium: "The team that wins the toss and chooses to bat first might establish control over match as the first two days will promise a lot of runs."

The pitch will be quite similar to that in Dhaka. "Even the pace bowlers would not be able to get any assistance during this time," Khokon added. "The wicket will only take a little turn on the third day while the fourth and fifth day will definitely belong to the bowlers. Maybe the only difference will be a slight change in bounce."

John Bracewell, New Zealand's coach, is reluctant to make any major changes to the side, but with one eye on the series against Australia next month, there is the temptation to include Kyle Mills or Chris Martin, who have yet to play a match on this tour. Ian Butler, who went wicketless at Dhaka, may be rested.

There is no room for complacency, however tempting, for New Zealand. Oram, who took only three wickets in the first Test, said: "The fact that we played with the ruthlessness which was expected was very good. We've come over here to get some results after recent poor performances, notably the 0-3 whitewash in England, and it doesn't matter who it's against."

Whichever way the result goes, history, either long-standing or recent, will be turned around.

Bangladesh (probable): 1 Javed Omar, 2 Nafis Iqbal, 3 Aftab Ahmed, 4 Rajin Saleh, 5 Mohammad Ashraful, 6 Alok Kapali, 7 Khaled Mashud (capt, wk), 8 Manjural Islam Rana, 9 Enamul Haque jr., 10 Mohammad Rafique, 11 Tapash Baisya.

New Zealand (probable): 1 Mark Richardson, 2 Matthew Sinclair, 3 Stephen Fleming (capt), 4 Scott Styris, 5 Nathan Astle, 6 Jacob Oram, 7 Brendon McCullum (wkt), 8 Daniel Vettori, 9 James Franklin, 10 Paul Wiseman, 11 Chris Martin.

Debashish Biswas is assistant editor of Wisden Cricinfo

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