Mohammad Ashraful expects the pitches for the two Tests against South Africa to be similar to the one in Bangladesh's warm-up match in Kimberley. Bangladesh drew their two-day game with the South African Airways Challenge XI but Ashraful was happy that some of the top-order batsmen got runs and his bowlers bowled out the hosts in two sessions.
Mushfiqur Rahim top-scored in the game with 89, while youngster Imrul Kayes, yet to make his Test debut, made a patient 86 after opening the batting with Tamim Iqbal. Ashraful was pleased by their performances but felt they should have gone on to make centuries. "It was a good wicket to bat on but movement was available to the seamers throughout. The weather in both Kimberley and Bloemfontein has been brilliant which is also very good for us."
Bangladesh could start the series without their strike bowler Mashrafe Mortaza, who missed the warm-up game because of a sore back, but Ashraful said Shahadat Hossain, who took five SAA Challenge XI wickets, had stepped up impressively in Mortaza's absence. "We need all the bowlers to keep hitting the right areas which did not happen consistently in the two-dayer. Hopefully we will have Mash [Mortaza] back for the Test match because you need your best bowlers to fire in big matches.
"Our goal was to play sessions and we achieved that. It is a whole new ball game when you face South Africa but scoring runs against a side which had decent first-class players also helps when you prepare for sterner tests."
Mortaza said the stiffness in his back was gradually reducing and he hoped to complete on full practice session on Tuesday before a decision was taken on his availability for the first Test starting the next day.