A stroll around Shere Bangla
Ends: Ispahani End, Aqua Paints End
Test History: 12 matches (9 away wins, 1 home win, 2 draws)
Tosses: 8 batted first (4 wins, 3 losses, 1 draw), 4 bowled first (2 win, 1 loss, 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 Test here was in October 2014, when the Tigers recorded their first win at the ground by beating Zimbabwe by three wickets inside three days.
The visitors won the toss and opted to bat, which history suggested could end with all three results on the table, and they made 240 all out. Shakib-al-Hasan took six wickets and only Sikandar Raza impressed with the bat, making 51.
The Tigers then made 254 thanks to three half tons, but Tinashe Panyangara's five-fer prevent a decent lead. Still, Zim were not able to capitalise and were removed for 114, with seven wickets going to Taijul Islam.
As such, the hosts needed just 101 runs to win but they nearly messed it up completely. The top three batsmen were all out for ducks, and it was left to Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur Rahim to score 20s to save the day.
Happy Hunting Ground
Having played all 12 Test matches there, it comes as no surprise that Shakib has taken the most wickets and scored more runs there than any other player – 43 scalps and 956 runs respectively.
The wicket clearly favours spin, as you'd expect on the sub-continent, but several seam bowlers, particularly those with swing in their arsenal, have tasted success there. Zaheer Khan holds the record for the best innings (7/87) and match analysis (10/149) at the ground, while Dale Steyn, Neil Wagner, Tino Best and Suranga Lakmal have all been more successful there than would be expected.
On the run-scoring charts, Tamim Iqbal is second on the list having made a century and six 50s in the 11 matches he’s played there, while Jayawardena – who scored 372 runs in only two matches – is the leading scorer among visitors.
Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor after the 2014 match: "The groundsmen made a good wicket. It was a good cricket wicket. Pace and bounce and turn, that's going to make entertaining cricket, but definitely bad batting will have to be the case."
Mushfiqur Rahim ahead of Pakistan Test: "We have some work to do if we want to get 20 wickets in a match to win. We will set our plans for bowling after we assess the pitch in Dhaka, but we know that our bowlers are capable enough to do the job if there is any assistance from the pitch."
The first two days are set to be hot, in the mid-30s, and slightly humid, moving towards chances of thundershowers over the weekend. Hopefully the rainy season won't arrive too early, but it looks like there shouldn't be much, if any, interference.
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 bounce subsides. Then they must switch focus to the turn. Centuries are not in big supply here, unlike the previous Test in Khulna.
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