Bangladesh must bridge the gap for chance of an upset

Match facts

October 20-24, Chittagong
Start time 10.00am (0400GMT)

Big picture

The first Test is the meeting of a major force in Test cricket and an irregular participant. Bangladesh are resuming the format after a gap of more than 14 months, while by the end of year England will have played 17 Tests in 2016 including seven in eight weeks on the subcontinent.

England have won all their eight Tests against Bangladesh - by comfortable margins as well, although sometimes after plenty of toil - but arguably are not the overwhelming favourites that history would suggest given the potential of a youthful top order and continued questions over their spin bowling.

While they should still be the front-runners - the success in the ODI series will have boosted confidence in the conditions, although there is a significant turnover in personnel - given the oppressive heat and humidity, the lack of preparation time for some players and inexperience in others, they will be guarding against being too comfortable.

Alastair Cook will become England's most capped Test player, and will have to lead from the front in conditions he is familiar with, having toured Bangladesh as the U-19 captain in 2004 and later in his first assignment as Test captain in 2010. He is set to open with a newcomer, either Haseeb Hameed or Ben Duckett. The latter has impressed having scored four fifties during this tour - he could yet slot in at No. 4 - and Hameed showed his willingness to battle the new conditions during the warm-up matches.

Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow will have to take care of the rest of the batting line-up while Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes will have to lead the bowling attack in the absence of James Anderson. Much focus will be on Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali and they are set to be joined by a third spinner with 39-year-old Gareth Batty, who played his previous Test in 2005, the favourite.

The home side has a solid top six but due to injuries, loss of form and their 14-month break from Test cricket, have to make five changes since their last game. Much of their fortunes will depend on Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim, though England will know not to count out Imrul Kayes and Mahmudullah.

But Bangladesh's bowling will depend heavily on Shakib Al Hasan, who will have Taijul Islam for help though the rest of the attack may contain two Test debutants.

Chittagong will pose the usual Bangladeshi challenges for the visiting team but, so far, England have been willing to roll up their sleeves. They have trained extra hard to get used to the heat and the pitches, as was seen during their sessions since the ODI series.

So in their first meeting in more than six years, England and Bangladesh both have significant challenges to face. Once they come face to face, it could turn into a better contest than on paper.

Form guide

(completed matches, most recent first)

Bangladesh DDDLD
England LWWLD

In the spotlight

When it is England, much of the focus is on Tamim Iqbal who made the four Tests in 2010 memorable with his rapid scoring which including two centuries. His average against England, 63.12, is his highest against teams off which he has taken more than 500 runs.

Ben Duckett has made four fifties on tour so far, and has looked more comfortable applying his own game into the local conditions than many of his more accomplished team-mates. Duckett is likely to make his debut, and could be a handful for the Bangladesh attack.

Team news

Bangladesh's top six will be exactly the one that played the last Test, but the rest of the line-up will be changed. Sabbir Rahman and 18-year-old offspinner Mehedi Hasan are most likely to make their Test debuts and if the home side go with two pace bowlers, Kamrul Islam Rabbi would also be making his debut. If Mushfiqur keeps wicket, Nurul Hasan will be sitting out.

Bangladesh (probable) 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Imrul Kayes, 3 Mominul Haque, 4 Mahmudullah, 5 Shakib Al Hasan, 6 Mushfiqur Rahim (capt & wk), 7 Sabbir Rahman, 8 Mehedi Hasan, 9 Shafiul Islam, 10 Taijul Islam, 11 Kamrul Islam Rabbi

England will have to make at least three changes from their last Test XI, with Alex Hales (opted out), James Vince (dropped) and James Anderson (injured) unavailable. There was a late move which favoured Duckett opening with Cook and Hameed missing out, which would mean Gary Ballance retaining his place. The third spinner spot is between the Surrey pair of Batty and the uncapped Zafar Ansari.

England (probable) 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Ben Duckett, 3 Joe Root, 4 Gary Ballance, 5 Ben Stokes, 6 Jonny Bairstow (wk), 7 Moeen Ali, 8 Chris Woakes, 9 Adil Rashid, 10 Gareth Batty, 11 Stuart Broad

Pitch and conditions

There is likely to be a slow pitch, which wouldn't give any batsman a comfortable start. The spinners are likely to get more purchase after the first day but again it will be on the slower side. Dust bowls could appear but not until later in the contest. After the rain which threatened the ODI, the forecast is for it to be hot and sunny.

Stats and trivia

  • The 14 months and 20 days since their last Test is Bangladesh's longest duration between two Tests. The previous longest was exactly 14 months between June 4, 2010 and August 4, 2011.

  • None of those in the Bangladesh squad has played 50 Tests, with Mushfiqur the highest with 48 caps.

  • England are likely to have just two survivors from their previous Test in Bangladesh - in Dhaka during 2010 - with Cook and Broad having played on that occasion, although Steven Finn was also in the XI.

  • Jonny Bairstow needs 43 runs for 2000 in Tests.


"It is nice to be addressed as captain after a long time."
Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim sums up the Test gap of 14 months

"It's going to be a very special day tomorrow on a personal note. This game is not going to be remembered for a personal thing, it's going to be a team performance, but it's going to be a special day to overtake a record of such a fantastic England cricketer."
England captain Alastair Cook on becoming his country's most capped Test player, moving past Alec Stewart's 133 Tests