<
>

'Our spinners better than Australia's' - Shakib

Shakib Al Hasan made early inroads in England's second innings Getty Images

Bangladesh's spin attack is better than Australia's at home, according to Shakib Al Hasan. He has backed left-arm spinner Taijul Islam and offspinning allrounder Mehidy Hasan, with whom he combined for 38 wickets in the two-Test series against England last year, to deliver against Australia as well.

"I think our spin attack is better than theirs," Shakib said. "Not in all conditions but in Bangladesh, we are better than them. Taijul and Miraz [Mehidy] have been bowling well for some time now. I believe they will do something fantastic in this series."

Shakib is the most experienced spinner in the Bangladesh side with 176 wickets at an average of 33.04. Taijul is two short of 50 wickets while Mehidy has 35 wickets in seven Tests.

The tourists also have an experienced spinner in Nathan Lyon, who will be supported by two rookies - left-arm spinner Ashton Agar, who has played only two Tests so far, and legspinner Mitchell Swepson, who is uncapped in international cricket. Agar, set to play his first Test in more than four years, is likely to partner Lyon in the first Test ahead of Swepson.

With the pitches in Bangladesh becoming more responsive to spin now, and more quality spinners coming through the ranks, Shakib feels his workload has lessened. He may not have to bowl as many overs as he used to get wickets.

"Taijul and Miraz are bowling well. Spinners like Raj bhai [Abdur Razzak] and [Mohammad] Rafique bhai were around in my early days," Shakib said. "But there weren't pitches that helped wicket-taking, because we didn't really think about winning Test matches. Since now we are focused on winning, the pitches have also become more helpful for spinners."

Shakib, who is set to play his first Test against Australia, is looking forward to complete a set of five-wicket hauls against all nine other Test countries. He would become the fourth player after Muttiah Muralitharan, Dale Steyn, and Rangana Herath to achieve the feat.

"I have that in mind. I have four innings to do it so let's see, Shakib said. "It is more important to contribute, so if someone else takes a five-wicket haul it is good for the team. Taking wickets isn't really up to me.

"There are times when I don't get a single wicket despite bowling very well. And then there are times when I got wickets by not bowling well. Bowling [in] partnerships is also essential, so we have to keep that in mind too."