Pitch report – Shere Bangla National Stadium
We profile the venue for the second and final Test between Bangladesh and New Zealand in Dhaka.
<b>Established:</b> 2006<br><b>Capacity:</b> 50,000<br><b>Floodlights:</b> Yes<br><b>Ends:</b> Ispahani End, Aqua Paints End<br><b>Test History:</b> 9 matches (8 away wins, 1 draw)<br><b>Tosses:</b> 6 batted first (4 wins, 2 losses), 3 bowled first (1 win, 1 loss, 1 draw)
<b>Overview</b><BR>The stadium, which gets its name from the 'Tiger of Bengal' Abul Kashem Fazlul Huq, a renowned Bengal leader and freedom fighter from the 1940s, is the official home of Bangladesh cricket. It is situated in Mirpur, roughly 10 kilometres from the centre of Dhaka.
In a move which stirred up a fair bit of resistance, the BCB shifted its headquarters in 2005 from the Bangabandhu National Stadium, a multi-sports complex in the heart of the city, to the Shere Bangla Stadium, in order to have their own facility exclusively for cricket.
The move would appear to have been validated by the 20 or so simultaneous games of tape-tennis ball cricket matches which take place every morning and every evening on the grassless plot adjacent to the stadium.
The ground boasts probably the best drainage facility on the whole of the sub-continent, with an even slope of 29 inches from wicket to boundary. The stadium was upgraded in 2011, with the football floodlights replaced and the capacity increased to 50,000 ahead of the World Cup.
<b>Last Time Out</b><br>November 2012's first Test saw the West Indies' choice to bat first amount to 527 for four declared on the back of Shivnarine Chanderpaul's double-century. Bangladesh's reply climbed to 556 all out and, as the pitch deteriorated, scores became smaller.
273 all out then played 167 all out, as the Windies won by 77 runs after tea on the fifth day – completing a very good contest, in which patient batsmen prospered and the use of debutant spinner Sohag Gazi with the new ball marked a potential precedent.
<b>Happy Hunting Ground</b><br>On a bowling front, <b>Shakib Al Hasan</B> leads the pack with 28 Test scalps at 38.82 a pop here. <b>Sohag Gazi</b> is next in line with nine scalps at 24.33.
Batting-wise, it's <B>Shakib Al Hasan</B>, again, and <B>Tamim Iqbal</B> that weigh in with averages of 47.29 from 17 knocks and 39.13 in 15 respectively. The former's <a href='http://www.paddypower.com/bet/cricket/cricket-test-matches/Bangladesh-V-New-Zealand-5949393.html' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>odds of 4/1 as the match's top-scorer</b></a> are, indeed, justified.
<b>Ross Taylor</b> and <b>Brendon McCullum</b> are New Zealand's lone survivors form their last Test in Dhaka in 2008. The latter managed a solid 66 in the first innings.
<b>They Said</b><br>"The wicket flattened out after the lunch session, but there was turn in the first hour. We will try to bowl them out as quickly as we can. We don't have any sort of targets because the wicket is flat. We will try to keep them to as low a total as possible." – Bangladesh spinner <b>Sohag Gazi</b>, after day one in 2012.
"There is not a lot on the pitch, not a lot of swing. So guys running in were trying hard. They put in a lot of effort. On a flat pitch like that you need to unsettle them with bouncers. But credit to the Bangladesh batsman, they didn't let us bully them too much." – West Indies coach <b>Ottis Gibson</b> last year.
"The pitch we saw from the last session of the fourth day and the first session on day five, there were something for the spinners and also our guys are much quicker. I backed my bowlers and once we were patient, we know could get wickets." – West Indies captain <b>Darren Sammy</b> 12 months ago.
"The surface is different here from the one in Chittagong, two totally different pitches. They are good wickets." – former Bangladesh coach <B>Stuart Law</B>.
"The batsmen may expect more runs from this wicket. The wicket of Dhaka is made of black clay, while the Chittagong wicket is made of red clay." – Curator <B>Shafiul Alam Belal</B>
<b>Weather Forecast</b><br>Only day three, according to forecasts, will be spared of scattered thundershowers – with rain likely to mar pre-match preparation too. Humidity levels will remain characteristically high, with temperatures likely to peak at 32 degrees Celsius.
<b>Conclusion</b><br>The Dhaka deck is rather atypical of a sub-continent wicket – faster, rather than slow and low – and was once described by South Africa captain Graeme Smith as "the strangest colour pitch he'd ever seen" due to its straw-like complexion.
There is a bit of bounce available and a solid contest on offer between bat and ball. The slower bowlers, however, may be able to make best use of the conditions, though not to discount the seamers, especially with the extra lift off the surface. Amid a reasonably balanced ratio, 18 of the 34 wickets to fall were taken by the spinners last time around. Expect plenty of close-in fielders.
It is general practice for sides winning the toss to make the most of the batsmen-friendly conditions on the first two days, thus avoid batting fourth across some potential deterioration. Initial patience to get used to the different nature of the wicket will reap reward – the batsmen willing to do the hard work should be able to cash in. .
Nine Tests here have brought just one draw. The hosts, however, have not claimed one of the eight wins – and <a href='http://www.paddypower.com/bet/cricket' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>New Zealand's cricket betting odds of 6/5</b></a> suggest this trend is set to continue.
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