Bangladesh were well and truly in the game till the second session of day four although the scorecard of the first Test match between Bangladesh tells that it was an easy win for Pakistan. With a fairly young and comparatively less experienced side, the hosts gave Pakistan a run for their money. With Shakib Al Hasan returning to the team, Bangladesh will feel that they can put on a stronger performance in the second Test.
As is often the case, the pitch is a major talking point whenever a match is hosted in Mirpur. In Chattogram, the pitch did not deteriorate as much as it was expected. There were runs for batters and rewards for both pacers and spinners. The Mirpur pitch is historically a slow, spin-friendly one and it will be very interesting to see when spin comes into play especially when the opposition is Pakistan, a side well-equipped to negate spin.
Shakib's return a relief for Bangladesh
The home side missed the services of Shakib in the first Test. Whenever Shakib misses out, the balance of the team is hurt big time and they have to field either a batting-heavy or bowling-heavy side. In the absence of Shakib, the hosts picked four genuine bowlers - two pacers and as many spinners - although Abu Jayed wasn't used that much.
If the pitch favours the spinners, then Bangladesh might opt for a three spinner-one pacer combination. Taijul Islam bowled well in the previous match and the addition of Shakib will take a lot of pressure off his shoulders. "With Shakib returning, we are mulling a combination of seven batters and four bowlers," said Mominul Haque, the Bangladesh skipper, in the press conference.
If Bangladesh play four bowlers including Shakib, it will increase the batting depth of Bangladesh. They seem to have a liking to this formula of having genuine batters batting down to number eight and that is likely to be the case in the second Test.
How the batting order may look like for Bangladesh?
Tamim Iqbal, Bangladesh's premier opening batter in Tests, has been away from action for a while due to injuries and that forced Bangladesh to have an inexperienced duo - Shadman Islam and Saif Hassan - open the innings. With the latter being ruled out due to typhoid fever, there is a vacant spot at the top of the order.
It can be a two-way race between two uncapped players - Mahmudul Hasan Joy and Mohammad Naim. Joy may eventually get the nod as the hosts prefer a left-right combination. If they go for four bowlers except Shakib, then Najmul Hossain Shanto may be asked to open the innings with Shadman but the chances are less.
Bangladesh's middle-order will be bolstered by the presence of Shakib. Mominul, Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib will take the number four, five and six spots respectively. Yasir Ali has recovered fully after being hit by a nasty bouncer bowled by Shaheen Shah Afridi in the second Test and will be slated at number seven. Liton Das, who top-scored in both innings in the previous match for Bangladesh, has to bat at eight or an exchange of positions may be seen between Yasir and Liton.
Bangladesh must be wary of Pakistan's pace
Bangladesh managed to get the better of the experienced Pakistani line-up at least in the first innings. But the major difference was made by two Pakistani pacers - Hasan Ali in the first innings and Shaheen in the second innings. Bangladesh batters had to struggle against their pace and swing. They have the ability to run through any batting line-up regardless of the condition of the pitch.
"I've been enjoying bowling with Hasan. This year, he has got 39 wickets and I've got 44. We bowl in partnerships and make plans to unsettle the batters when they are playing well. Hasan is a fighter and he never gives up," said Shaheen.
Play on the first day of the second Test will begin at 10 am local time on Saturday.