Bangladesh v England: Mominul Haque a class act for hosts
By James Wilson
Last Updated: 18/10/16 12:34pm
Test match cricket returns to Bangladesh for the first time in almost 15 months on Thursday as they host England in a two-match series, live on Sky Sports 2.
Despite making huge strides in ODI and T20 cricket, Tests continue to be a struggle for a side that made their debut in 2000. Bangladesh have beaten only Zimbabwe and West Indies in this format, with the latter success somewhat tainted by the Windies' inability to field a full-strength side due to a contract dispute.
The main issue for Bangladesh has been a sheer lack of games since making their Test debut against India. They have played 93 Tests in the same time that England have chalked up 203 Tests, winning on 89 occasions.
But the closely-fought ODI series will give Bangladesh some confidence that they can trouble England, especially in home conditions. So which players in the home dressing room should we look out for?
Standing at just 5ft 3.5in, Mominul may be the shortest player on the pitch, but with a batting average of 56 from his 17 Tests, prizing his wicket may prove to be a tall order for England's bowlers.
The left-hander, who has four hundreds and nine fifties, will bat at No 3 for Bangladesh, as part of a settled top six.
Three of his hundreds have come at Chittagong, which will host the first Test, including his maiden 181 against New Zealand and unbeaten century to save a Test against Sri Lanka.
Mominul also went 11 consecutive Test matches with a score of 50 or more, equalling an achievement made by Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Sir Viv Richards, and bettered only by AB de Villiers' 12-match record.
Having captained a BCB XI side in the first warm-up against England, Rahman looks set to make his Test debut at No 7 on Thursday. He scored 30 in that shortened tour match and has moved ahead of team-mate Soumya Sarkar in the selectors' thoughts.
He also picked up three wickets with his handy leg-spin during that warm-up game, and with Bangladesh still trying to find a regular wrist-spinner, it may be that he is used in that role during the series.
With 29 ODIs and 26 T20s, Sabbir has shown he belongs at international level. He made 49 from 46 balls in the third ODI against England and the ability to increase the run-rate will make him a danger lower down the order.
With Mashrafe Mortaza, Mustafizur Rahman and Mohammad Shahid all unavailable, Bangladesh have selected just two seamers in their 14-man squad. In truth, Bangladesh's bowling has been a concern for a while and coach Chandika Hathurusingha has conceded they lack an attack capable of taking 20 wickets in a match.
With that in mind, a lot of pressure will be on the experienced Shafiul Islam, who gains a recall after last playing a Test in 2014. He is selected alongside the uncapped Kamrul Islam Rabbi and despite a modest Test record, Shafiul will need to step up to lead the Bangladesh attack.
He bowled reasonably well during the ODI series, picking up four wickets at an average of 39.25 and will need to do so if Bangladesh stands a chance of beating England in this series.
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