Pressure on West Indies to improve home form
September 5-9, 2014
Start time 1000 local (1400 GMT)
West Indies have more to play for in the first Test at Arnos Vale, since Bangladesh are only looking to get out with two drawn Test matches. West Indies are the team in form, having crushed the visitors 3-0 in the ODI series. More crucially, they have to bounce back from the 2-1 defeat to New Zealand in their only Test series of the year so far.
Denesh Ramdin would like to use some of his ODI form in this series, his second as captain. The 169 in the second ODI aside, he has been in fairly good form since 2012, having struck three centuries and as many fifties in Tests. He would also be inclined to rely on Chris Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Darren Bravo to hold the batting together. Younger batsmen like Kraigg Brathwaite and Jermaine Blackwood would be expected to settle in with big scores, having done well against Bangladeshi sides in the recent past.
The visitors' humble goal is particularly down to their own ordinary form and having to play without the suspended Shakib Al Hasan. Some of their batsmen have shown improvement in the last two innings, in the third ODI and the only innings in the three-day warm-up match against St Kitts & Nevis. Mushfiqur Rahim and Nasir Hossain got hundreds while Tamim Iqbal finally broke his long streak of sub-50 scores in international cricket. Surprisingly, Mominul Haque's place in the team is being reconsidered after just two low scores in international cricket. He has scored three hundreds in Bangladesh's last four Test matches, and has batted with a lot more assurance than many of his teammates.
Apart from selection confusion, Bangladesh's bowling attack is also going to slow them down. Rubel Hossain is the only bowler to have played more than 15 Tests, and his bowling average is a dismal 81.23, the worst among all bowlers who have delivered more than 3000 balls in Test cricket. Left-arm spinner Taijul Islam is most likely to make his Test debut, in which case he will be selected ahead of Elias Sunny, who has only just arrived in St Vincent to replace Sohag Gazi.
Mahmudullah will have to step up and show some experience, having taken eight wickets at this ground on his Test debut five years ago. Al-Amin Hossain's wickets in the ODI series will be considered a sliver of hope.
While Bangladesh can pick eight recognised batsmen, West Indies might have to push Test newcomer Jason Holder up to No 7. Some might say their tail starts early but Holder has shown he can bat, particularly when he made a fifty in his debut Test in June.
West Indies (completed matches, most recent first) LWLLL
Players to watch
West Indies can call upon four allrounders in limited-overs cricket, but none of them are in the Test squad. Instead, they used Jason Holder at No 7 in their last Test, where he impressed with a fifty. But Holder's stronger suit, quick bowling from a high action, will be expected to come through first.
Bangladesh's thin bowling resources mean that Al-Amin Hossain has suddenly become a bit of a leader of the attack, though he himself has played only three Tests. But he was the highest wicket-taker in the ODI series less than two weeks ago and with Robiul Islam being downgraded in the pecking order and Rubel Hossain averaging 80-plus in 19 Tests, Al-Amin can expect a lot of bowling.
West Indies have picked a similar squad to the one that played New Zealand in June. So the only change could be Kirk Edwards making way at No. 3 for Jermaine Blackwood, who had done very well against Bangladesh A and earned a Test cap as well.
West Indies (probable): 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Kraigg Brathwaite, 3 Jermaine Blackwood, 4 Darren Bravo, 5 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 6 Denesh Ramdin (capt & wk), 7 Jason Holder, 8 Kemar Roach, 9 Shane Shillingford, 10 Sulieman Benn, 11 Jerome Taylor
Bangladesh have a difficult choice to make at the top of their order, where they might have to leave out either Shamsur Rahman, who scored a hundred in their last Test match, or Anamul Haque, who scored a century in the first ODI. Rubel Hossain took three wickets in the warm-up match, so he might pip Robiul Islam for a place in a two-man pace attack. Given the shape of the squad, Bangladesh are likely to give debuts to both Taijul Islam and Shuvagoto Hom, the spin-bowling allrounder.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Shamsur Rahman/Anamul Haque, 3 Imrul Kayes, 4 Mominul Haque, 5 Mushfiqur Rahim (capt & wk), 6 Nasir Hossain, 7 Mahmudullah, 8 Shuvagoto Hom, 9 Taijul Islam, 10 Rubel Hossain, 11 Al-Amin Hossain
Pitch and conditions
Spin dominated the only first-class match played here this year, a low-scoring game between Windward Islands and Combined Campuses and Colleges. There is a slight chance of rain during the first Test, but sunny skies should prevail over Arnos Vale for most part.
Stats and trivia
- Denesh Ramdin will be Mushfiqur Rahim's first opposing captain who is also a wicketkeeper
- Out of their last eight home Test series, West Indies have only won two, against Zimbabwe and New Zealand. They have lost to New Zealand, Bangladesh, India, South Africa and Australia, and drawn a series against Pakistan.
"From a personal point of view, I would like to draw both Tests. I think we are capable of that. We had an opportunity in the ODI series. We will try to create similar opportunities, which should be our main goal."
Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim
"We know that they don't like a lot of seam bowling. But at the same time we've got spinners in our team, and still without the likes of Sunil Narine we have guys who are capable of bowling some good-quality spin - Suleiman Benn, Shane Shillingford."
West Indies captain Denesh Ramdin is confident of his all-round bowling attack.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84