The National Squad is getting exactly twelve days for their closing practice sessions before setting out for Pakistan to take on the hosts for the opening clash of Asian Test Championship. The ground of Multan is quite alien to the Bangladeshi boys. Even the management is ignorant about whether the track is spinfriendly or pace favouring. The Bangla Tigers are now reduced to fourteen in number and the only notable omission is Mushfiqur Rahman who toured Zimbabwe early this year. He and ace spinner Mohammad Rafique have been included in the four member standby list.
As a recognized batting all rounder Mushfiqur could not pull off in Zimbabwe, particularly in the two Tests he played there. So, he has been replaced by Bikash Ranjan Das, the jaunty fast-medium bowler who put on the national cap in the Test against India. The left-arm Bikash bowled well in that match and dispatched Indian opener Ramesh by uprooting his stumps. The selectors were mindful of the pitches of Pakistan, which prompted them to involve four pacers in the team, but none of them has a good hand with the bat. It is notable that we have witnessed a sudden collapse of the tail in the three Tests the country has played so far.
The left-arm Enamul Hoque can be termed as the sole specialist off spinner who can put some resistance with the bat too. If we add the name of Naimur and Ashraful, the number rises to three. The positions of Naimur and Enamul are constant, no matter in what type of pitch the team are playing. Only Ashraful is precarious. The management is plotting to play three of them if the pitch seems spin supporting.
The first eight positions are almost certain - Mehrab, Javed, Bashar, Aminul, Akram, Naimur, Khaled and Enamul. Left arm pacer Majurul looked difficult to put away in Zimbabwe and his haul of 6 wickets in the debut appearance fortifies his place in the squad. The rest two positions will let in two pacers from Sharif, Hasibul and Bikash - if the track responses in favor of the pacers.
There are some other points too. After the inaugural Test it is thought that Habibul Bashar is the best candidate for the one-down slot. In the first Test against Zimbabwe he was seen troubled in dealing with the new ball (scored 0 and 24 respectively). In the second Test he batted at number five and turned out to be the most dangerous batsman (64 & 76) and the chief cause of worry for the home side. Thus the management has altered plans to play Al-Sahariar for one-down (he made 68 in Zimbabwe in that position).
Before the Multan Test Bangladesh gets a single opportunity to assess their strength as they will face a local side for a three-day practice match.
The world-class Inzamam-Ul-Hoq will be gladly waiting for Bangladesh to come. Multan is the home ground of this burly batsman and he is in the best of his form as he got centuries in all his last six series.