17 May 2007
Bangladesh is playing their first Test match after a break of 13 months in Chittagong on Friday, the same venue where they played their last test against Australia in April 2006.
During this period, Bangladesh has made significant progress in ODIs winning 21 out of 35 matches, which included World Cup win against India and South Africa. Bangladesh is keen to use the confidence achieved from the successes of shorter version to prosper in the more traditional form of the game.
After obtaining elite status in 2000, Bangladesh suffered hiccups with religious regularity raising constant concern about the future of their Test status. Out of the 44 Test matches played, Bangladesh only managed to win against a weakened Zimbabwe and lost as many as 39 matches.
Mohammad Rafique is the key for Bangladesh's success © Cricinfo
Bangladesh came agonizingly close to Test glory against Pakistan in Multan, but were denied by some controversial decisions. They also managed to take mighty Australians to the wire in the last series they played; a monumental innings by Adam Gilchrist again denied a well deserved victory. Bangladesh will try to forget the major part of their Test history as they suffered countless defeats and often with massive margins barring a drawn Test at St. Lucia against West Indies.
The youth brigade of Bangladesh, who are the trademark of rejuvenated Bangladesh are yet to make their mark in the Test arena, and selectors have kept their faith on the experienced campaigners in the up-coming two match Test series against India. Only Sakib Al Hasan, who impressed with consistent all-round performance, is set to make his test debut in Chittagong.
Bangladesh captain Habibul Bashar, who has scored 2,838 runs in 42 Tests, is cautiously optimistic about Bangladesh's prospect in the series.
"It's only been one-day cricket for us over the past year. We have not played Test matches in that period and it will be tough to adjust quickly. But we will do our best," said Bashar.
Bangladesh's outgoing coach Dav Whatmore, who led the transformation of Bangladesh in ODI cricket, is confident to put up a good show despite a break of 13 months.
"We played some good cricket over the last 13 months, winning a good number of ODIs helped to build confidence but players must apply themselves to adjust to Test cricket," said Whatmore.
However, he admitted Bangladesh is yet to master the art of Test cricket and it will take some more hard work to succeed in the top level.
"The players are still not versatile enough because they bat well in the first innings, but not in the second which is much tougher. They still haven't acquired this skill completely, but it will happen with the help of the four-day games in domestic cricket," Whatmore added.
Indian captain Rahul Dravid is banking on the experience of the Indian side and is optimistic of winning the series convincingly.
"We have played a lot of Test cricket and there is a lot of experience. So we expect to do well against them in both matches. Hopefully we can get some good weather and some good wickets and we can do really well", said Dravid.
India are bolstered by the return of experienced Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman and Anil Kumble, who did not feature in the one-day series.
Bangladesh's vice captain Mohammad Ashraful who missed the last ODI due to fever is expected to play, but concern remains over the fitness of wicket-keeper Khaled Mashud who suffered a finger injury in a domestic match, and Tushar Imran who is suffering from viral fever.
The weather is looking good and rain is not expected to play a major role in the first Test match which starts tomorrow.
Bangladesh - Habibul Bashar ( Captain), Mohammad Ashraful, Javed Omar, Shahriar Nafees, Saqibul Hasan, Rajin Saleh, Tushar Imran, Khaled Mashud, Mohammed Rafique, Enamul Haque jnr., Mashrafe Mortaza, Shahadat Hossain, Syed Rasel, and Mehrab Hossain jnr.
India - Rahul Dravid (Captain), Wasim Jaffer, Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S. Laxman, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Sourav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Karthik, R. P. Singh, Zaheer Khan, V.R.V. Singh, Munaf Patel, Anil Kumble, Ramesh Powar and Rajesh Pawar