Dhaka pitch in focus as is unseasonal rain which is forecast from the second to the fourth days
Bangladesh have narrowed the gap in skills with Pakistan, but they are still some way off acquiring the mental steel needed to turn corners, handle clutch moments and win Tests. The Dhaka Test is the home side’s last chance to pose the visitors a stern challenge and turn things around for themselves.
Bangladesh’s batting is their major concern. The top order combusted easily in both innings, which included captain Mominul Haque. Shakib’s inclusion will bolster the batting that was heavily dependent on Mushfiqur and Liton. The bowling, too, will be spin-heavy now that Shakib is back, but how they balance it with pacers is also a big question. The bowling composition will be an early indication of the type of pitch that curator Gamini Silva might dish out.
(last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Abid Ali more than made up for his duck against Bangladesh last year with his 224-run tally in the first Test, which included a first-innings 133. Batting like a solid opener, he shifted gears with aplomb, getting into his shell to see Pakistan through good spells of bowling and then opening up quickly to punish errors against spinners and quick bowlers alike.
Liton Das bounced back admirably in the Chattogram Test after the T20 World Cup debacle. His maiden Test hundred came at a crunch phase for Bangladesh when they looked down and out. For a player with an aesthetically pleasurable style of play, his inconsistency, though, is frustrating for Bangladesh.
Shakib and Taskin are set to return to the XI while Mahmudul Hasan Joy could make his Test debut in Saif Hassan’s vacated spot.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Shadman Islam, 2 Mahmudul Hasan Joy, 3 Najmul Hossain Shanto, 4 Mominul Haque (capt), 5 Mushfiqur Rahim, 6 Shakib Al Hasan, 7 Liton Das (wk), 8 Mehidy Hasan Miraz, 9 Taijul Islam, 10 Taskin Ahmed, 11 Ebadot Hossain
Pakistan are likely to be unchanged.
Pakistan (probable): 1 Abid Ali, 2 Abdullah Shafique, 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
Spinners will definitely come into play at the Shere Bangla National Stadium. The question is when. Unseasonal rain is in the forecast from the second to the fourth days.
Stats and trivia
“Everyone from the subcontinent plays spin very well, so it is better not to give them a spin wicket. I think everyone else would do the same. I prefer a flat wicket.”
Bangladesh captain Mominul Haque doesn’t believe using a spin-friendly pitch will help the home side
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84