First Test preview: Bangladesh v West Indies
Two years on from their series defeat at home, West Indies have the opportunity to prove to Bangladesh that that result did not reflect a change in the balance of power.
Two years on from their series defeat at home, West Indies have the opportunity to prove to Bangladesh that such a result might not have happened if the islanders had fielded their first-choice team.
Prior to the 2009 series in the Caribbean Bangladesh had not won a Test against West Indies, and had never won a Test series away from home, but were able to capitalise on a West Indian player strike to sweep the series 2-0.
West Indies will want to prove that that result does not represent a shift in power between the two nations, but have given mixed signals during the one-day series with comfortable victories in the first two matches followed by humiliation in the third. Being bowled out for 61 in any conditions suggests a certain vulnerability which Bangladesh will hope to expose once again.
Three of the tourists' top five are likely to change for the Tests, and the major point of intrigue will be Kirk Edwards. The Barbadian's century on debut against India saved the third Test when it looked to be a lost cause, giving hope that the Windies might have found some grit who can hold the middle order together.
They certainly need it, because Shivnarine Chanderpaul has suffered a worrying loss of form over the course of the year and seems a shadow of the batsman whose defence was unbreachable in 2008. At the age of 37, one wonders whether he can revive his career.
Perhaps the biggest reason why you have to fancy West Indies for the series is that Bangladesh have axed almost half their team. Mohammad Ashraful, Abdur Razzak, Robiul Islam and Junaid Siddique have all been left out, while Mahmudullah and Shafiul Islam miss out through injury.
The selectors' knee-jerk response to defeat in Zimbabwe is unlikely to stand the team in better stead for this series, and is only likely to spread further uncertainty through a squad which is not exactly high on confidence.
Shahadat Hossain and Raqibul Hasan get another chance after more than a year out of the Test side as the revolving door swings full circle once more.
The task for new skipper Mushfiqur Rahim is huge, but the hope must be that Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan can reach greater heights now that they have been relieved of their responsibilities. Both have the ability to become world-class cricketers, but have often felt the burden placed on their shoulders by the captaincy positions.
Shakib will be supported in the spin department by the uncapped Elias Sunny, who has been rewarded for his performances in the Bangladesh Board Cup with a call-up and looks likely to add a second left-arm option. Wickets can be hard to come by in Chittagong, and so the spinners can expect to do plenty of bowling.
<b>Key Men</b><br><i>Bangladesh:</i> With conditions likely to favour the batsmen, Bangladesh will need <b>Shakib Al Hasan</b> to show all his craft and guile over the five days. There might not be much spin on the opening two days, but with some clever drift he should be able to trouble the right-handed top three of the West indies order.
<i>West Indies:</i> <b>Devendra Bishoo</b> is yet to play a Test overseas, but has already earned himself an ICC award after impressing both during the World Cup and in the West Indian home season. Conditions won't be too dissimlar to the ones he grew up with in Guyana.
<b>Last Five Head-To-Head Results</b><BR>July 2009, Second Test: Bangladesh won by four wickets in Barbados<br>July 2009, First Test: Bangladesh won by 95 runs in St Vincent<br>June 2004, Second Test: West Indies won by an innings and 99 runs in Jamaica<br>March 2004, First Test: Match drawn in St Lucia<br>December 2002, Second Test: West Indies won by seven wickets in Chittagong
<b>Prediction</b><BR>Bangladesh can be a tough prospect in front of their home crowd, but the West Indian bowling attack is much stronger than their hosts and also better balanced. They seem far more likely to take 20 wickets, so we're backing a <b>West Indian victory</b> on day five.
Online betting firm <a href='http://www.skybet.com/betting/cricket/c30.html' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><B>Sky Bet</B></a> has Bangladesh at 9/2 in the <a href='http://www.skybet.com/betting/cricket/c30.html' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><B>betting</B></a> for overall series victory. Visit Sky Bet for the latest cricket betting.
<b>Probable Teams</b><br><i>Bangladesh:</i> Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Shahriar Nafees, Shakib Al Hasan (capt), Raqibul Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim (capt, wk), Naeem Islam, Elias Sunny, Shahadat Hossain, Rubel Hossain, Nazmul Hossain.
<i>West Indies:</i> Lendl Simmons, Kieran Powell, Kirk Edwards, Darren Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Marlon Samuels, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Darren Sammy (capt), Ravi Rampaul, Fidel Edwards, Devendra Bishoo.
<b>Dates:</b> 21 – 25 October<br><b>Morning session:</b> 09:30 – 11:30 (03:30 – 05:30 GMT)<br><b>Afternoon session:</b> 12:10- 14:10 (06:10 – 08:10 GMT)<br><b>Evening session:</b> 14:30 – 16:30 (08:30 – 10:30 GMT)<br><b>On-field umpires:</b> Kumar Dharmasena and Nigel Llong<br><b>Third umpire:</b> Moni<br><b>Match referee:</b> Andy Pycroft
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