The fluctuating fortunes of the Chittagong Test will be a hard act to follow but, if Bangladesh continue to chase a win, the Dhaka Test could be another interesting affair. Having been beaten in an ODI series at home for the first time in two years, salvaging a drawn Test series with England would be the suitable finish for the home side.
For that to happen, though, they need to do a few things properly. Bangladesh’s top seven is the strongest they have had in their history, which puts a lot of the onus on putting together a 400-plus total in the first innings to set up the game. It is an effort that is well within their grasp, particularly with their openers Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes showing good form.
Both will be expected to put up at least one big partnership in this game, with Mominul Haque, Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur Rahim asked to make big on their starts, while Shakib Al Hasan must find a way to curb his recklessness. Sabbir Rahman, meanwhile, has recovered from stomach pain and can be expected to take on the second new ball while batting at No 7.
England have also stuck with the top six that played in Chittagong. Ben Duckett is yet to show his wide-ranging skills while the more experienced Alastair Cook and Joe Root will expect to make runs in Dhaka. Gary Ballance could be a tense presence, fighting to extend his run in the side, but there won’t be the same issues with Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes, who had a brilliant game in Chittagong.
Stokes’ ability to reverse the ball could sway the game towards England, though he will need support from Chris Woakes and Steven Finn, who has been confirmed as a replacement for the rested Stuart Broad. England’s spinners will ultimately have to do the bulk of the bowling, especially Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid. Zafar Ansari has been confirmed for a Test debut, replacing Gareth Batty.
The Bangladesh bowling attack will bear a similar look in Dhaka too, with Shakib leading the pack. He will be glad to have the support of Mehedi Hasan and Taijul Islam, though the pace bowling department looks bare. Shuvagata Hom, for once, seems like a better choice as a fourth spinner.
The batting skills to tackle spin and reverse swing, and DRS, could be the theme of this Test match too, though rain, thanks to Cyclone Kryant over the Bay of Bengal, could cause interruptions. If there’s a full game, the hope is that it pans out to be another good contest.
[Special Mention: ESPN]