Pitch report: Shere Bangla stadium, Dhaka
Ends: Ispahani End, Aqua Paints End
Test History: 14 matches (10 away wins, 1 home win, 3 draws)
Last 10 tosses: 8 batted first (4 wins, 2 losses, 2 draws), 5 bowled first (2 win, 2 losses, 1 draw)
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
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.
Last Time Out
The most recent outing here was in August last year, when the Proteas recorded a draw thanks to the weather. It rained for four of the five days.
The Tigers won the toss and chose to bat, as one does here, and scored 246 for eight. Mushfiqur Rahim made a lone half ton, while Dale Steyn and JP Duminy took three wickets apiece.
And then it rained. And rained and rained and rained. The drawn series contributed to the Proteas slipping from top of the Test rankings.
Happy Hunting Ground
Having played all 14 Test matches there, it comes as no surprise that Shakib-al-Hasan has taken the most wickets and scored more runs there than any other player – 44 scalps and 1093 runs respectively. The next best bowler, Zaheer Khan of India, has 17 wickets.
On the run-scoring charts, Tamim Iqbal is second on the list having made a century and six 50s in the 13 matches he’s played there. Mushfiqur Rahim is third, with 640 runs in 13 Tests.
Alastair Cook is the best current England batsman here, scoring a century in the one Test he played here in 2010. None of the current England bowlers have made an impression, with former spinners James Tredwell and Graeme Swann doing the best.
Alastair Cook on keeping four seamers: “It’s nice having that extra seamer for our side. When it does reverse you can keep the pressure on for longer.”
SA paceman Dale Steyn after day one above: “I love what I am doing right now, even if it’s in 40 degree heat and the ball is staying ankle high and it’s not bouncing and there’s no seam and it’s very slow.”
Mushfiqur Rahim on day five above: “Ninety per cent of the outfield was covered. It is hard to cover a ground of this size entirely. The drainage system here is as good as anywhere else in the world.”
Day one is set to have the most rain, according to the forecasts, with days two and three also overcast but not as wet. Days four and five are set to be clear, if they get that far.
This is one of the less predictable pitches on the circuit, and both batsmen and bowlers can do well. The ball does tend to dominate though, with draws hard to come by as the pitch assists the spinners more and more as games progress.
The first two days should help pacemen too though, so batsmen from both sides must be ultra vigilant until the slight bounce subsides. Then they must switch focus to the turn. Centuries are not in big supply here later in the game, despite the flatness of the pitch.
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