The hosts will be without Tamim, Shakib and Mahmudullah while Pakistan will be keen to carry forward their T20I form into Tests
The only saving grace for the home side is the change in format, although Pakistan too would be glad to take a break after a period of busy T20 cricket.
Imam-ul-Haq and Abid Ali will be Pakistan’s opening pair – the Abid-Imran Butt opened in their last six Tests. The 22-year-old Abdullah Shafique, who has struck two centuries in three first-class matches, is an interesting inclusion in the 12-player squad that was announced on Thursday.
Bangladesh will mostly go with seven batters with Taijul Islam and Mehidy Hasan Miraz as the main spinners. Both have been in good form in domestic cricket lately and will be expected to bowl the bulk of the overs in Shakib’s absence.
However, their pace attack seems to be lean as only Abu Jayed has been in some kind of rhythm. Rejaur Rahman Raja, the surprise pick in the Test squad, could be handed a debut after getting rave reviews from high-performance bowling coach Champaka Ramanayake.
(Last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Pakistan will look at Shaheen Shah Afridi to lead the bowling attack and give early breakthroughs. Afridi may not find a lot of help from the Chattogram pitch which usually assists spinners, but he should use the breeze that blows across the ground.
Bangladesh are considering as many as three Test debutants in this game. Mominul has hinted that Joy may open while Yasir is a strong candidate at No 6. Rookie fast bowler Raja may also play ahead of Ebadot Hossain.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Shadman Islam 2 Mahmudul Hasan Joy, 3 Najmul Hossain Shanto, 4 Mominul Haque (capt), 5 Mushfiqur Rahim, 6 Yasir Ali, 7 Liton Das (wk), 8 Taijul Islam, 9 Mehidy Hasan Miraz, 10 Abu Jayed, 11 Ebadot Hossain/Rejaur Rahman Raja
Sajid Khan could partner Nauman Ali in the spin attack, which would leave batter Shafique out of Pakistan’s XI. They are without Imran Butt, who was dropped from the squad, and Mohammad Abbas, from their last Test against West Indies.
Pakistan (probable): 1 Imam-ul-Haq, 2 Abid Ali, 3 Azhar Ali 4 Babar Azam (capt), 5 Fawad Alam, 6 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 7 Faheem Ashraf, 8 Nauman Ali, 9 Hasan Ali, 10 Shaheen Shah Afridi, 11 Sajid Khan
Pitch and conditions
West Indies successfully chased 395 runs in the fourth innings in the last Chattogram Test, which suggests that the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury pitch will generally hold up for the entire five days. Temperatures are expected to be mild.
Stats and trivia
“It is a challenge for a young captain like me to head into the new WTC cycle with a young team. We have always required senior players on the Test side. Shakib bhai, Tamim bhai and Taskin are regular players. But it is a continuous process. We have to move on. We cannot be disappointed all the time. I firmly believe it is a huge opportunity for the younger players.”
Bangladesh captain Mominul Haque on their inexperienced squad
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84
(With Inputs from ESPN)
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