Unfancied Bangladesh seek to put best foot forward

Match details
Holkar Stadium, Indore
November 14 to 18, 9:30 IST

The main picture
With India and Bangladesh squaring off in a Test series just three days after the conclusion of a T20I series, it’s hard to escape the feeling that the tour could have been scheduled better. From Bangladesh’s perspective, the lack of a tour match cannot be ideal in their preparation for arguably the toughest Test assignment on the international calendar. Where in T20Is the focus was on finding versatile players to help get by a 20-over innings, the Test series starting tomorrow will put the spotlight on the specialist batsmen and bowlers from both teams and, stacked with a handful of Test specialists, the transition may actually be smooth for India and Bangladesh.

For Bangladesh, the change in Test captaincy before a tour of India, where visiting teams have won only twice since the turn of the century, is far from ideal. Mominul Haque takes over as Bangladesh Test captain following Shakib Al Hasan’s two-year ban and he assumes the mantle right at the start of his team’s World Test Championship campaign. As the premier batsman in the Test side, his biggest challenge will be to isolate the two roles and primarily keep scoring runs. Of course, former captain Mushfiqur Rahim, T20 captain Mahmudullah and Liton Das are part of the engine room of the Bangladesh batting line-up that must collectively perform to give the team a chance of beating the No. 1-ranked Test side.

Bangladesh come into the Test series against India having lost their three completed Tests this calendar year, with their most-recent Test defeat coming against Afghanistan at home in September. Shakib was part of that team and the batting, in particular, let them down. Facing the No. 1-ranked India could bring the best out of Bangladesh, but what is for sure is they need to be at their best to challenge and potentially unsettle India.

For the home team, the challenge actually is to focus on the first Test, which will be traditionally played with the red ball. Next week’s pink-ball Test at Eden Gardens has dominated the pre-Test series build-up and Virat Kohli and co. have had the option to practice with the SG pink balls on the eve of the Indore Test. And, while you don’t expect India to become complacent, it’s a test of whether they can stay in the present and confront the opposition and conditions in front of them amid the unavoidable excitement of the fast-approaching pink-ball Test at one of the famous venues in world cricket.

Holkar Stadium pitch report and weather forecast

The pitch at the Holkar Stadium has generally been full of runs, with it offering even bounce and good pace. Its nature is unlikely to be different this time round, with it being potentially good to bat on for the first couple of days before becoming conducive to spinners.

The forecast is for clear and sunny weather on all five days of the Test, with the temperature in the late-20s (degree Celsius).

India vs Bangladesh 1st Test playing 11

Possible India playing 11: 1 Virat Kohli (c), 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Mayank Agarwal, 4 Cheteshwar Pujara, 5 Ajinkya Rahane, 6 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Ravichandran Ashwin, 9 Umesh Yadav, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Kuldeep Yadav/Ishant Sharma

Possible Bangladesh playing 11: 1 Mominul Haque (c), 2 Shadman Islam, 3 Imrul Kayes, 4 Liton Das (wk), 5 Mushfiqur Rahim, 6 Mahmudullah, 7 Saif Hassan, 8 Mehidy Hasan, 9 Taijul Islam, 10 Abu Jayed/Al-Amin Hossain, 11 Mustafizur Rahman

Match prediction

The onus is very much on Bangladesh to perform collectively after their disappointing performances in Test cricket so far this year. Their batting has consistently let them down and the bowling has rarely looked capable of taking 20 wickets. India have the resources, experience and the conditions in their favour to feel confident. For the visiting Bangladesh, winning the toss, for a start, will help pose a challenge to this formidable Indian side.

How and where to watch?

The India vs Bangladesh 1st Test is being broadcast on the Star Sports Network and streamed live on Hotstar.