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Buoyant Bangladesh sweat over Mushfiqur Rahim’s finger injury | Cricket

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Mushfiqur Rahim celebrates his double-century © AFP


Big Picture

‘Spin it to win it’ seems to be the watchword in the Bangladesh-West Indies Test series. The Dhaka pitch for the second game is likely to be as helpful to the spinners as the Chattogram surface was, although the home side will tell you that curator Gamini Silva’s work is often unpredictable.

Bangladesh’s spin attack, led by captain Shakib Al Hasan, wouldn’t mind another spin-friendly pitch after they handed Bangladesh a maiden win at home against West Indies.

Taijul Islam, Shakib, Nayeem Hasan and Mehidy Hasan Miraz formed a useful quartet in the first Test, taking all 20 West Indies wickets. Taijul was the pick of the bowlers in both innings, but it was his 6 for 33 in the decisive fourth innings that made the big difference. Shakib was at his accurate best, teasing and dragging batsmen out of their crease or getting them to go back to full balls with his variations in flight.

Nayeem and Mehidy, both offspinners, were crucial too. Nayeem became the youngest ever bowler to take a five-wicket haul on debut. Delivering offspin from a height is his advantage, and he is also quite accurate. Mehidy, meanwhile, snared Shimron Hetmyer, West Indies’ most aggressive batsman in Chittagong, twice.

Bangladesh’s batting, however, remains a worry. Mominul Haque struck 120 in the first innings but Mushfiqur Rahim didn’t have a good Test with the bat while Mahmudullah and Imrul Kayes struggled for their runs. Soumya Sarkar and Mohammad Mithun failed to apply themselves deftly on a spin-friendly wicket.

The same can be said about the West Indies batsmen, in particular Kraigg Brathwaite, Kieran Powell, Shai Hope and Roston Chase, who had double failures in Chittagong. Going back to sharply turning deliveries was their fault, a trap Hetmyer and Shane Dowrich, who made fifties in the first innings, didn’t fall into too often.

Sunil Ambris showed a bit of resistance in the second innings, but unless the top order contributes, winning a Test match will be difficult. West Indies, however, will be happy with how Jomel Warrican and Devendra Bishoo bowled while Kemar Roach is likely to get Keemo Paul as his new-ball partner after Shannon Gabriel was suspended for barging into Imrul.

Form guide

Bangladesh WWLLL (Last five completed matches, most recent first)
West Indies LLLWW




Shane Dowrich acknowledges the applause © AFP


In the spotlight

Shane Dowrich was mostly safe behind the stumps in the first Test, while also contributing with the bat. His unbeaten 63 in the first innings was the type of resistance mixed with proactive batting that West Indies badly need in Dhaka.

The spotlight is always on Shakib Al Hasan, who claimed his first Test win at home under his captaincy in the last game. He also bowled and batted well enough to be confident of a proper recovery from his finger injury.

Team news

Following Mushfiqur Rahim’s finger injury two days before the match, Bangladesh have enlisted Liton Das on stand-by, should Mushfiqur not be deemed match-ready. There is a chance Mushfiqur could play as a specialist batsman with Liton slotting in as keeper and replacing Mohammad Mithun. Shadman Islam, meanwhile, is likely to make his Test debut in place of Imrul Kayes, who has a shoulder injury.

Bangladesh (probable): 1 Shadman Islam, 2 Soumya Sarkar, 3 Mominul Haque, 4 Mohammad Mithun, 5 Shakib Al Hasan (capt), 6 Mushfiqur Rahim/Liton Das (wk), 7 Mahmudullah, 8 Mehidy Hasan Miraz, 9 Taijul Islam, 10 Nayeem Hasan, 11 Mustafizur Rahman

West Indies’ first headache would be to replace the suspended Shannon Gabriel. Fast bowlers Keemo Paul and Shermon Lewis and pace-bowling allrounder Raymon Reifer are the candidates vying for the spot.

West Indies (probable): 1 Kraigg Brathwaite (capt), 2 Kieran Powell, 3 Shai Hope, 4 Shimron Hetmyer, 5 Sunil Ambris, 6 Roston Chase, 7 Shane Dowrich (wk), 8 Keemo Paul, 9 Devendra Bishoo, 10 Kemar Roach, 11 Jomel Warrican

Pitch and conditions

Dhaka served up a predominantly batting-friendly pitch in its previous Test but it is unlikely to go that way in the second Test. The weather remains mild.

Stats and trivia

  • Mushfiqur Rahim needs eight runs to become the second Bangladesh batsman to reach 4000 Test runs. Tamim Iqbal has scored 4049 so far.
  • Taijul Islam is six wickets short of becoming the third Bangladesh bowler to take 100 Test wickets. He would also be the fastest if he completes the feat in his next five matches.
  • The Chattogram Test was the first time in the last 10 years that the West Indies lost all 20 wickets to spin bowling

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84


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Vernon Philander to miss Boxing Day Test against Pakistan

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South Africa seamer Vernon Philander is set to miss the first Test against Pakistan on Boxing Day after sustaining a hairline fracture on his right thumb. With Lungi Ngidi out of action until February with a knee injury, South Africa will go into the first of three Test matches with just three fit frontline quicks in Duanne Olivier, Kagiso Rabada and Dale Steyn.

Philander had recently returned to action following rehabilitation for a recurring ankle injury, that had flared up during South Africa’s trip to Sri Lanka in July, and had played in one of the early season rounds of the domestic four-day competition, as well as turning out for Durban Heat in seven of their Mzansi Super League matches.

“I really don’t even want to think about what would happen should there be another injury,” said South Africa coach Ottis Gibson.

All three of the remaining fit quicks will be playing in Sunday’s Mzansi Super League final, but they will not be part of next week’s round of domestic four-day cricket.

ALSO READ: Gibson not worried about Amla’s dip in form

“If you look at where we are, Steyn, Rabada and Olivier become very important to us. We just want to manage them as best we can. We’ve seen how Dale’s been going. I don’t want to say we’ve seen a transformation because he’s always been a top player, but he’s back to full fitness and performing like the player of old. KG (Rabada) as always is very important to us.”

“We’ve looked at a few bowling options over the past 14 months and we’ve got what we feel now is a very good bowling attack and group,” Gibson said. “You’ve got Steyn, Rabada, Philander, Ngidi and Olivier, who’s been in-and-out, but always in our thinking. That’s the making of a good attack in any form of the game. My job now is to keep them fit and fresh for them to be at their peak at international level.”



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India ‘surprised’ by soft signal on Virat Kohli catch – Jasprit Bumrah

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India’s players were “surprised” that Virat Kohli was given out on the field after Peter Handscomb claimed a catch off the bowling of Pat Cummins, according to Jasprit Bumrah.

A diving Handscomb appeared to scoop up a thick edge after Kohli drove hard at a full and wide delivery, but the decision was then referred to the third umpire, Nigel Llong. Llong was unable to find conclusive evidence, after extensively reviewing replays, to overturn the soft signal of out given by Kumar Dharmasena in consultation with Chris Gaffaney on the field.

But Bumrah said India were puzzled by the original decision.

“We were a little surprised by the on-field call,” said Bumrah. “Now it has been done, and it has been done. Now we will move forward with the game.”

Conversely, Nathan Lyon said there was no doubt in the minds of the Australian players that Handscomb had taken the catch cleanly.

“I wasn’t sure about the conversation between the umpires but, yeah, we thought it was out.

“Conversation was ‘great catch’.”

Kohli’s wicket fell at a crucial time in India’s innings, with India on 251 and trailing Australia’s first-innings total by 75 runs. The decision sparked a lively debate among fans and commentators alike and drew a strong reaction on social media in India.

ALSO READ: Bat, breathe, bat – the essence of Virat Kohli

Speaking on ABC radio, former Australia batsman Ed Cowan took an opposing view. “There is zero doubt in my mind that this catch has carried,” Cowan said. “Virat has made this a news story, and he shouldn’t.

“He should have the grace to walk off and say that was a fair catch.”

Kohli’s demeanour was animated through the day’s play. When he reached his century he held his bat up with one hand and made a talking gesture with his other hand. He encouraged the enthusiastic and noisy Indian contingent in the crowd and was front and centre for celebrations whenever an Australian wicket fell. There was also what appeared to be a colourful exchange between Kohli and Tim Paine as the pair walked off the field at the end of the day’s play.

Lyon played down the significance of the exchange.

“I think he just asked him where he was going for dinner that’s all,” Lyon said. “I’ve played enough cricket against Virat to know what he’s like.

“Virat’s Virat and I’m not worried about what he’s doing or what India’s doing.”

But Kohli’s animation throughout the day was enough to draw criticism from some, including former Australia batsmen, Michael Hussey.

“Virat Kohli is out of control out there,” said Hussey, speaking on Macquarie Radio. “He is revving up the crowd and he is going nuts when they take a wicket. I don’t like his attitude at the moment.”



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Afif Hossain, Zakir Hasan haven’t developed as expected, says Bangladesh selector

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Poor form has held back some of Bangladesh’s young cricketers who, at the start of the year, were touted for big things. Chief selector Minhajul Abedin said that Afif Hossain, Zakir Hasan and, to a lesser extent, Mahedi Hasan had been disappointing in domestic and representative sides since making their T20I debuts in February this year.

Afif is a left-handed opener who bowls useful offspin, once snaring Chris Gayle as part of a five-wicket haul on T20 debut. Zakir is also a left-handed batsman who keeps wickets and is also known for his fielding. Both Under-19s graduates have been billed as the next big stars emerging from Bangladesh but so far they have struggled to find a spot in the senior side regularly.

Mahedi, an offspinner who is useful with the bat, had impressed in the 2017 BPL along with Afif and Zakir. All three were doing well in the Dhaka Premier League List-A competition when they were picked in the T20I side in place of some senior players who were injured at the time.

“We had high hopes about Afif and Zakir but they have been quite disappointing, to be honest,” Minhajul told ESPNcricinfo. “They haven’t made use of their skill development as well as given game planning much thought. Afif and Zakir didn’t do well in domestic cricket or in the Emerging Teams Cup.”

Afif made two first-class centuries immediately after his T20I debut but, for Bangladesh A, he scored only 64 runs in six innings against Sri Lanka A and Ireland A. He has averaged 16.90 in the current first-class season, before making just 20 runs in the two Emerging Teams Cup matches.

ALSO READ: ‘As long as he is alive, Hope will play’ – Brathwaite

Zakir averaged 28.92 in 13 innings for Bangladesh A, before making three fifties in seven first-class matches this season so far. He made 69 in one of his two Emerging Teams Cup appearances.

By contrast, Mahedi has done very well in this season’s Bangladesh Cricket League first-class tournament, averaging 80.50 with bat and taking 16 wickets at 26.75. “He is not out of contention,” Minhajul said. “Mehidy Hasan Miraz is playing all three formats while Nayeem Hasan made a wonderful start to his Test career. We consider him [Nayeem] as Miraz’s backup but Mahedi is also one of the offspinners in our radar.”

The Bangladesh team management have instead trusted Nazmul Islam, Ariful Haque and Abu Jayed in recent times, with the trio regularly picked in the senior side. Nazmul has played all 13 of Bangladesh’s T20Is this year while Jayed has made an impressive start to his Test career. Ariful meanwhile has made debuts in all formats this year.

One thing in common among Nazmul, Jayed and Ariful, as well as Mohammad Mithun who made his Test debut this year, is the length of time they have spent in domestic cricket. Afif, Zakir and Mahedi need a few more seasons in domestic and A-team cricket before they can have enough experience for their individual skills to develop, and to find consistency.

It answers a long-standing question in Bangladesh cricket: do they really need to give youth a chance at the top so quickly? Perhaps, given the evidence, it is more important to let these young cricketers succeed and fail in domestic cricket for a few years before being picked at the highest level.



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