Gaining momentum

February 9, 2020

A depleted, out-of-form Bangladesh take on an reinvigorated Pakistan as the country hosts another Test

The first Test between Pakistan and Bangladesh is being played in Rawalpindi. This Test is also part of the World Test Championship.

Bangladesh is the second team to tour Pakistan for Test cricket since 2009. In December last year, Sri Lanka toured Pakistan for 16 days and played Tests at Rawalpindi and Karachi. With this, Test cricket seems to be gaining momentum in the country.

Pakistan have not won a Test in Rawalpindi for 23 years. They lost to Australia in 1998, Sri Lanka in 2000 and India in 2004.

The 263-run win over Sri Lanka in the Karachi Test in December 2019 gave confidence to the home side. The Green-shirts are confident of winning the Test series after winning the T20I series (2-0) against Bangladesh last month.

It was the Green-shirts’ first T20I series win in more than a year. They had been whitewashed (3-0) by inexperienced Sri Lanka at home and had lost in Australia 2-0.

On paper, Pakistan look much stronger as Bangladesh will miss the services of its two most senior players, Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan. Their absence is a blow to Bangladesh. They lost their last two Tests in India inside three days.

Mushfiq refused to tour Pakistan due to his family’s concerns over “security”. He accepted that Pakistan is a great place to play cricket, but decided not to visit because his family is worried.

The former Bangladesh captain also turned down the offer to play in this year’s Pakistan Super League (PSL) which is to be played entirely in Pakistan. He played for Karachi Kings in the past seasons.

Mushfiqur is the most capped Bangladesh player with 68 Tests. He was captain in 34 of them. He is the only Bangladesh player to have scored two double centuries.

All-rounder Shakib is serving a ban which was imposed when the ICC found him guilty of failing to contact the sport’s Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) watchdog after being approached on three separate occasions to “engage in corrupt conduct”.

Shakib has played a vital role in many of Bangladesh’s victories. He was also the overall third highest run scorer at the 2019 Cricket World Cup.

It will be a good opportunity for Bangladesh’s new captain Mominul Haque to show his leadership quality. Without Mushfiqur, who takes the responsibility of the middle order, it will be a tough challenge for him. In the absence of senior players, the series also provides opportunity to young Mohammad Mithun, Najmul Hossain Shanto and Liton Das to cement their places in the team.

Bangladesh lost all five Tests they played in 2019. They have won only four matches away from home in their 20-year Test history.

Bangladesh were awarded Test status in November 2000 when they took on India in Dhaka. Before the ongoing first Test against Pakistan, Bangladesh had played 117 Tests, lost 88 and won only 13.

Before the Rawalpindi Test, both teams had played 10 Tests. Pakistan won nine, four of them by an innings. One was drawn. The nearest they came to winning against Pakistan was way back in 2003 when they set the hosts 261 ton win and dismissed half the side for just 99 in Multan. But Inzamam-ul-Haq’s masterly unbeaten century guided Pakistan to a sensational one-wicket victory.

Pakistan’s biggest win also came in Multan when in 2001 they beat Bangladesh by an innings and 264 runs.

Pakistan’s 628 at Khulna in 2015 is the highest innings total in their bilateral Test cricket. Bangladesh scored 555-6 — their highest ever against Pakistan — in the same Test.

Bangladesh were bowled out by Pakistan for just 96 — the lowest completed innings total in their bilateral Test cricket — in Peshawar in 2003. Pakistan’s lowest Test innings total against Bangladesh came in Multan in 2003 when they were bowled out for 175.

Former opener Muhammad Hafeez has been Pakistan’s most successful batsman against Bangladesh. He scored 650 runs in seven Tests. He scored three centuries and one fifty, averaging 59.09. Former captain Younis Khan is just behind him with 638 runs in same number of matches at an average of 79.75 with three hundreds.

Former skipper Habibul Bashar scored 554 runs against Pakistan, including one hundred and six fifties, averaging 50.36.

Current Pakistan Test captain Azhar Ali’s 226 in Dhaka in 2015 is the highest individual score from both sides. Opener Tamim Iqbal’s 206 in Khulna in 2015 is their highest individual score.

Former leg-spinner Danish Kaneria is the most successful bowler with 34 wickets in five matches, averaging 16.41. For Bangladesh, Mohammad Rafique took 17 wickets in three Tests at an average of 23.82.

The writer can be reached at [email protected]

Gaining momentum: Bangladesh face Pakistan as country hosts another Test