Pitch report: Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium
We assess the pitch that will be hosting England’s first Test with Bangladesh, which starts on Thursday.
Ends: Isphani End, UCB End
Home Team: Chittagong Division
Test History: 13 (1 home win, 7 away wins, 5 draws)
Tosses: 10 batted first (3 wins, 5 draws, 2 losses), 3 bowled first (2 losses, 1 win)
Also known as the Chittagong Divisional Stadium, the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium was one of the five purpose-built cricket grounds established in the run-up to the 2004 Under-19 World Cup. The ground was finally given ICC approval to stage international cricket and became the 153rd Test ground in February 2006, when Bangladesh hosted Sri Lanka.
The stadium itself is an unremarkable concrete bowl set in acres of prime agricultural land, with a three-tier pavilion providing the focal point. Visitors to the stadium are welcomed by large green fields and tall trees, which gives one the feeling of being surrounded by a thick, green jungle. The pitch was relaid in 2013, with the opening Test against New Zealand the first match on the new track.
Last Time Out
Chittagong hasn’t seen any Test cricket since July 2015 when the Proteas visited and played out a rain-hit draw.
The Test saw the debut of Tigers pace sensation Mustafizur Rahman with the left-arm quick picking up figures of 4 for 37 as South Africa were bowled out for 248.
Bangladesh earned a tidy first innings lead as Tamim Iqbal, Mohammed Mahmudullah and Liton Das recorded half centuries in the hosts total of 326 all out.
The match would fizzle out into a draw after extensive rain delays caused play to be abandoned.
Happy Hunting Ground
Mushfiqur Rahim is the all-time leading runscorer at the venue having cracked 812 runs in 19 innings at the venue including a top score of 101 against India in 2010.
Alastair Cook meanwhile averages 106 in Chittagong having scored 212 runs in two innings in a Test match back in 2010. The skipper scored 173 and 39 in his two knocks.
Shakib-al-Hasan stands head and shoulders above any other bowler at this venue having taken 41 wickets in 12 Tests.
Steven Finn and Stuart Broad are the only English bowlers to have played here with the latter shading the former in terms of figures. Broad returned a match analysis of 3/135 while Finn managed 2/95 in a natch dominated by now retired spinner Graeme Swann.
Hashim Amla said of the hard work his seamers had to put in at Chittagong: “Our seamers tried exceptionally hard. “The wicket was probably the best to bat on when Bangladesh were batting [day two] and to their credit they batted really well. Our seamers tried hard and I think they put in a good showing.”
Mushfiqur’s comments after the drawn Test against South Africa give some insight into how the pitch will play: “Our pace bowlers bowled particularly well in the first innings. Conditions would have helped spin in the second innings. [So] we were ahead, if you think in that way. This is my personal opinion.”
The weather forecast is positive and we should get a full five days of play in Chittagong.
Chittagong usually provides a pretty flat track, the quicks may get a sniff of something to work with early on day one but this contest should be about trying to build pressure on the batsmen and the spinners in both line-ups will play a huge role as the match wears on. Runs are on offer for efficient players of spin but patience will be key.
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