The success in one-day international series has eliminated the fear factor but Bangladesh will still be wary of the might of South Africa when they take on the visitors in the first Test of the two-match series in Chittagong today. The Tigers hit the egos of Proteas when they recorded a come-from-behind 2-1 win in ODIs and that too in a whipping manner that would make any side embarrassed.
The Proteas must provide an answer and the Test series is the right kind of opportunity for them to show that they are not as bad a side as it might have looked in ODIs.
They are by far the best side in Test format for a long period of time making them favourites against any side in any condition and this series should not be any exception.
Though their batting lacked some depth with the absence of AB de Villiers and the retirement of Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and Alviro Petersen in recent years, they have the excellence in bowling department that made them such a formidable Test side.
Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander are now in Chittagong to join Morne Morkel and form the pace triumvirate intimidating for any side even on a dead pitch. And they would be licking their lips looking at the sky that remained overcast for the last few days.
For Bangladesh things cannot be more worrying despite the confidence they carried from ODIs. Their problem aggravated by the confusion over their own combination, which left even the curator of Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium puzzled.
The pitch was under cover for at least four days leaving plenty of grass on it. Much to the bewilderment of the curator, coach Chandika Hathurusinghe also asked him to keep it greenish despite knowing the strength of the opponents.
It was unclear if the curator would comply because there are different suggestions from some other corners too. In most likelihood the pitch could be behaving like it
did during the final ODI when ball kept low helping the spinners to some extent.
Bangladesh have included three paceman in their 14-man squad but if pitch takes a bare look it is unlikely all of them will be playing. Things are so complicated in Bangladesh team that even two
pacers are not certain to play given the hosts’ defensive mindset in recent matches.
In their last Test against India they loaded the team with eight batsmen and it may be the same here in Chittagong too. Skipper Mushfiqur Rahim indicated that Liton Das will retain his role as wicketkeeper meaning they have to compromise a batsman if they want to take
four regular bowlers to join with all-rounder Sakib al Hasan.
With Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Mominul Haque, Mahmudullah, Mushfiq, Sakib and Soumya Sarkar all stake a claim and Liton set to play as a wicketkeeper, the Tigers have only room to take three regular bowlers.
If that is the case Taijul Islam or Jubair Hossain will join two pacers, preferably prodigious Mustafizur Rahman and Mohammad
Shahid with the latter playing the last Test as lone pacer.
‘We need to find right balance,’ said coach Hathurusinghe. ‘We can look forward to good Test cricket if we get our roles and start to perform consistently,’ added the Sri Lankan.
The biggest problem is, right now even Hathurusinghe is not sure how the right balance may be attained.
-With New Age input