A new look Bangladesh are eying a good start to the World Test Championship's third cycle when they take on New Zealand in the first of two-match Test series at Sylhet International Cricket Stadium today (Tuesday).
The match starts at 9.30 AM. Bangladesh are without their several key players in this Test with captain Shakib Al Hasan, fast bowlers Taskin Ahmed, Ebadot Hossain being ruled out due to injury.
Senior opener Tamim Iqbal skipped the series while Liton Das was approved a paternity leave. Najmul Hossain Shanto will lead a vastly inexperienced side in which there is only one senior player in Mushfiqur Rahim.
Bangladesh won all of the two Test matches they played in this year but those wins came against teams like Ireland and Afghanistan. After beating Ireland by seven wickets, Bangladesh crushed Afghanistan by a record 546-run margin, which may indicate that they are on right direction in longer version format. However the real scenario is completely different.
Bangladesh so far played 138 Test matches resulting in 18 victories, 102 defeats and 18 draws for an overall winning percentage of 13.04. The New Zealand Test would provide if they make any improvement in this format. Both of the teams would switch to Test cricket straightway after the World Cup in which New Zealand's journey ended in the semifinal but Bangladesh had a forgettable mission, winning just two in nine matches.
New Zealand would play a Test series in Bangladesh for the first time since 2013. In the last 10 years, they played ODI series and T20 series on various occasions. However Bangladesh visited New Zealand for three Test series this time. The last time New Zealand played a two-match Test series here ended in a 0-0 draw.
While Bangladesh drew Test against different nations thanks to inclement weather, these two draws came courtesy to a pure good performance. Bangladesh batted really well in those Tests to salvage draw. At home soil, Bangladesh have never won a Test match against New Zealand but in the Black Caps land, they upset them in Mount Maunganui Test for their solitary victory in this format in the last year.
New Zealand were also vulnerable at Bangladesh's soil for a long time. Before their 2-0 victory in the three-match ODI series ahead of the World Cup, they were win-less here since 2008. While a victory in the ODI series would give New Zealand confidence that they could win a match in any format on Bangladesh soil, the hosts looked to be happy with a good fight given their recent form.
The Sylhet venue however hosted only one Test in 2018 and that Bangladesh lost against Zimbabwe by 151 runs. Since they haven't played any Test here since that time, there is little idea about the wicket also. But both of the teams seemed to have planned, revolving around spinners.
Bangladesh bolstered the team with number of spinners, calling up left-arm spinner Hasan Morad for the first time and bringing back offspinner Nayeem Hasan.
"I don't think it will be right to reveal about the wicket. We have got as much idea as we can. The thing that I can say that we'll try to play well," Shanto said in Sylhet yesterday. "But toss will be vital. But we are prepared to deal with any situation. If we need to bowl first, we'll try to bowl and if we need to bat first, we'll try to do well. If coin favours us, it will be good, if not we've no problem at all." Overall two teams played 17 Tests, with New Zealand winning 13, losing just one and drawing three.