Having overcome a tough challenge from Bangladesh in the three-match ODI series, England now head into the two-Test series, with the first match to be played at Chittagong. With the India tour looming, England would be keen to put up an impressive show. In fact, this will be a build-up of sorts for the Indian visit. Although the challenge in India would be much tougher, the conditions would be somewhat similar, and hence the Englishmen would want to get used to conditions on the subcontinent. England have never lost to Bangladesh in Tests, so that would make them definite favourites.
When the first Test kicks off, England Test skipper Alastair Cook will become the most capped played in the country’s Test history. The fact that he will do so a mere 10 years after his Test debut, against India at Nagpur in 2006, proves the volume of cricket he has played over the years, and how little he has missed. Cook will like to make the occasion special for sure. There had been a lot of talk about security and other issues when England were about to head to Bangladesh. Cook will he pleased that things seemed settled now.
A good news for the visitors is the fact that Joe Root will be back in whites after missing the one-dayers as he was rested. But, their opening combination remains a worry. With Alex Hales unavailable, Cook will have another new opening partner for the series. England though would be pleased with the effort of their youngsters in the one-dayers. Jake Ball made his debut with a five-for, and remains in the Test as well. With no James Anderson, Stuart Broad would be expected to step up. The series also marks the return of Gareth Batty at 39. It remains to be seen what he has to offer.
The hosts, on the other hand, will be led by Mushfiqur Rahim, who has been having a mixed time with the bat of late. He will be keen to make an impression. The openers, Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes, will also have a big responsibility considering the conditions on offer. The out-of-form Soumya Sarkar has been retained, but it remains to be seen whether he is given a chance. Further, Bangladesh have given a much deserved chance to Sabbir Rahman, who has been excelled in the shorter formats. Rahman, undoubtedly, possesses the ability to excel in Tests as well.
As mentioned earlier, Bangladesh have never beaten England in Tests. And if they want to compete, a lot will depend on their talisman, Shakib Al Hasan. As always, he would be expected to play a significant role with both bat and ball. Bowling is definitely a weak point of the hosts. A lot will depend on the likes of Shafiul Islam, Taijul Islam and Shuvagata Hom. Although they have played a few Tests, they cannot be termed as proven performers as yet. This is one area England would be keen to exploit, and could be the difference between the teams.
--By A Cricket Analyst