1st Test Cricket Preview – Bangladesh v Australia
Sunday August 27, 2pm AEST – Shere Bangla National Stadium, Mirpur
Australia is about to begin yet another tour to the subcontinent and hope that it has learned from the mistakes it made in the past. To make things a little more difficult this time around, they are going to be up against a Bangladesh side that is rapidly improving and have to adapt to a number of unknowns as well.
The fact the people are even talking about this being a tough tour for Australia shows how far Bangladesh has come. Australia has never lost to Bangladesh in their test history, although they have never played them at home before either.
England, one of the top-ranked sides in the world, came to Bangladesh last year with a similar record and ended up scraping their way to a 1-1 result that could easily have been 2-0 in the host’s favor.
Australia has not done well in the subcontinent traditionally but that was expected to change as players got a lot more exposure to spinning tracks because of the IPL and the touring facilities became better in these countries. The record shows that Australia’s problems with spin are much deeper seated.
In the last 10 years, Australia has played 22 matches in the Subcontinent and won only 2 out of them, losing 15 in the process, with the rest being drawn.
A lot of focus has been on Australia preparing themselves to face spin by batting without the front pad, recreating sub-continental conditions in Darwin and taking help of the players who have had success here in the past.
The Wolf is highly skeptical of how effective all this will be. Bangladesh is probably now the most spin friendly destination in the world. More than India where Steve Smith and his men lost 2-1 last year or even Sri Lanka where they lost 3-0.
Players to Watch Out for
For Australia to have any chance in this series, Steve Smith needs to score a mountain of runs. He proved beyond doubt that is the best Test batsman in the world when he scored 499 runs at an average of 71.28 in 4 tests on the tour to India.
He was the best batsman not just from Australia but from both sides. He is going to be the Wolf’s pick for being the top-scorer once again. Another couple of batsmen who really impressed were Glen Maxwell and Matt Renshaw, on his first tour to the subcontinent. Renshaw took long strides to the pitch of the ball, showed that he was comfortable against spin and could bat out time.
He was Australia’s second highest run scorer on the tour to India with 232 runs to his name.
Australia has also picked Usman Khawaja in the squad and he will almost certainly be a part of the playing eleven. He was very iffy against spin but does have the technique to adapt. The other big name in this Australian side is David Warner, a colossus in Australian conditions but not quite as effective in Asia.
David Warner is averaging 30.38 in Asia as compared to 59.21 in Australia. His tour to India last year was a complete disaster as he failed to adapt in any manner whatsoever.
Peter Handscomb will also play a crucial role lower down the order, possibly scoring quick runs with the tail.
The Wolf expects Australia’s bowling to be pretty effective in Bangladesh. Hosh Hazelwood showed that he can utilize reverse swing brilliantly and he even managed to get a 6 wicket haul in one inning. The main threat to Bangladesh though will come from Nathan Lyon, who was very impressive and took 19 wickets on his tour to India, and Pat Cummins.
Cummins has a lot of extra pace on his side, something that Bangladesh does not like and can bowl the cutters quite well also.
The days of taking Bangladesh easy are gone. Just ask Sri Lanka who had to settle for 1-1 in Sri Lanka or England that described the conditions in Bangladesh as some of the toughest they had faced.
There is no mystery about what Bangladesh will be looking to do. They are going to prepare surfaces that spin, quite possibly from the first day and then look to take almost all of their wickets with spin.
Another area where Bangladesh struggles massively is their fielding. They drop catches consistently, misfield and have trouble stopping the singles. Giving a player like Steve Smith a second chance could be disastrous for Bangladesh.
Bangladesh will have home conditions on their side but they will have to play their best brand of cricket against an Australia side that the Wolf believes is close to solving the sub-continent puzzle.
Players to watch out for
In their last series against England, they took 38 out of a potential 40 wickets with spin. The chief destroyer was Mehedi Hasan Miraz who took 12 wickets in their second test victory alone. He is an excellent off-spinner who will undoubtedly be called upon to open the bowling against David Warner and exploit his weakness to spin. Mehedi Hasan will be the main threat to the Australian batting in this series.
They also have Shakib Al Hasan and Taijul Islam that has very good series with the ball as well.
Bangladesh has a tried and tested approach with the ball in their home conditions but the area where they will be vulnerable is with the bat. Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan, and Mishfiqur Rahim will be the main stays of their batting and while all three of them are excellent players, the Wolf would call only Shakib Al Hasan as being world class.
The most consistent batsman in their lineup is actually Mominul Haque, attest specialist with a career average of close to 50 and someone who plays fast bowling quite well. He is the one the Wolf likes most to be the top batsman from Bangladesh.
Facing up to the likes of Cummins, Hazelwood, and Lyon is not going to be easy while Ashton Agar will be a big unknown for most of them.
Pitch and Conditions
This is a terrible time to be playing cricket in Bangladesh, weather wise. The warm up game was rained out and there is rain predicted for each day of the first test. The pitch will be underprepared, have uneven bounce and take a lot of spin.
Rain will take a lot of time out of this match and a result might be difficult. Back the draw at $3.70.