A Test match is won by winning moments, winning sessions and collective team work. The batsmen pile on the runs and pass on the baton to the bowlers to knock over 20 opposition wickets; prerequisite for winning a Test.
Bangladesh have been evolving, their career graph suggests that they are improving with every outing. This series will be an ideal opportunity to prove themselves against a formidable Test unit.
Australia did reasonably well against India, where their spinners were making the ball talk. Many Australian batsmen showed good temperament against spin and inspired confidence at the crease. They will certainly be a tough nut to crack for the hosts.
Bangladesh, on the other hand, are coming from a good series in Sri Lanka, which they squared one apiece. Although Australia have had an upper-hand against Bangladesh in this format, it would be perilous to underestimate a team that has transformed beyond recognition, especially at home. Furthermore, none of the current Australian players have played a Test in Bangladesh, as this will be their first tour after a hiatus of eleven long years.
Here’s looking at plans bowlers from both sides can execute to keep the opposition batsmen in check.
An early wicket is like gold dust, especially in Test cricket. David Warner can wreak havoc if gets going and his early dismissal is always a boon for the opposition. Australia, in all likelihood, will open with Warner and Matt Renshaw. The latter showed monk-like temperament against India in their backyard and looked promising.
With two left-handers at the top, Bangladesh should opt to open the bowling with Mehedi Hasan Miraz. The young off-spinner can create problems for the southpaws, especially David Warner. Warner has looked a bit uncertain against spin initially but can dominate it once he is set. With his pinpoint accuracy, Mehedi Hasan can potentially exploit Warner’s weakness as a leg before candidate if the new ball rushes straight on, rather than turning every time.
For Renshaw, Indian seamers got the better of him on five out of eight occasions in the Test series. Bangladesh can attack with somebody like Taskin Ahmed. A tight line outside off stump, getting him to play with an angled bat, poking tentatively at deliveries with a hint of a movement. The recipe worked like a charm on Indian pitches, no reason why it should not in Bangladesh.
On the tour of India, there was clear daylight between Steven Smith and the rest of the Australian batsmen. He amassed a whopping 499 runs, including a match-winning hundred in Pune and another two in Ranchi and Dharamsala. Dismissing him early will be tantamount to severing the head of a vicious snake.
Mustafizur Rahman can tease him outside off-stump, lulling him to chase deliveries seemingly in his reach. He can look to nick him out or slice a catch at gully, exploiting Smith’s penchant for throwing his hands at the ball, with a negligible movement of the feet.
Glenn Maxwell is a stroke-maker, he backs his natural instincts and likes to take on the opposition. The most suitable plan against him can be Shakib Al Hasan bowling around the wicket, wide of the crease. With subtle changes in pace. Shakib should try to lure Maxwell into stepping out of the crease and either play an aerial shot or beat him in flight. For executing this plan well, Shakib may need an in and out field.
Peter Handscomb will be another solid addition to the Australian line-up. If Bangladesh have analyzed the Australian batsmen well, they will notice how Kuldeep Yadav had bowled him through the gate in Dharamsala. Bangladesh can employ a similar tactic with off-spinner Mehedi Hasan, by leaving the cover field open and tempting Handscomb to drive imprudently against the spin.
For Bangladesh, most of the run-scoring will be highly dependent on the likes of Soumya Sarkar, Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan, Sabbir Rahman and Mushfiqur Rahim. Sarkar can be tested with sheer pace and bounce in the corridor of uncertainty outside off. If that time-honoured tactic is unsuccessful, Australia can resort to bombarding the left-hander with bouncers, since Sarkar has shown a conspicuous weakness against anything directed at his throat.
Tamim Iqbal has been in magnificent form and his early dismissal will be essential. A bowler like Pat Cummins should set attacking fields to defensive lines, playing with Tamim’s ego. With no discernible weakness to exploit, Australian bowlers should remain patient, or risk being incinerated.
Seamers might find success against Shakib Al Hasan. The southpaw has a knack of guiding the ball towards the third man; a byproduct of excessive limited overs cricket. Australian pacers must compel him to continue to play that way, with a packed slip-cordon, waiting to snaffle any opportunity.
Mushfiqur Rahim has been a silent assassin in the middle. He is one of the better players of spin bowling and uses the sweep to great effect, often nullifying LBWs by finishing his stroke outside the line of off-stump. Nathan Lyon should not waste any time in coming around the wicket, eliminating the productivity of the sweep greatly, by bringing LBW into play.
Spinners or even pacers can be used to attack Sabbir Rahman by bowling wicket to wicket. Get him to play across the line and trap him leg before. In his 10 Test dismissals so far, four have been leg before, while the others have been caught out.