It’s been eleven long years since the Australians have landed in Bangladesh for a Test series. They had planned on a tour in October 2015 but that did not materialize as security issues prompted them to postpone the series to 2017. Now, after all the drama, the Aussies have finally landed and are set to take on Bangladesh in a two-match Test series that gets underway on the 27th of August.
Bangladesh have made steady progress as a team in the past few years and despite their overwhelming growth in ODIs, which reached a pinnacle when they made it to the Champions Trophy semi-finals in England in June earlier this year, they have remained a tad circumspect in Tests.
The hosts have won just nine of the 100 Tests they have played in despite buzzing with talent. However, their progress in ODIs is slowly creeping into their Test game and a drawn series against England at home and another against the Lankans in Lanka is evidence that Bangladesh are no longer mere pushovers.
When this Australian team toured in 2006, Jason Gillespie famously compiled a double-hundred after walking in as the nightwatchman and the Aussies swept the Test series 2-0 before closing out the ODIs 3-0. Bangladesh have, however, become way better in recent times and are slowly building a sub-continental fort of their own much alike India and Sri Lanka.
Despite several things working in Bangladesh’s favour, Australia clearly has the edge and here are some more factors that work against Bangladesh in the Test series.
Quality of the Aussies pace attack
Despite Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson flying off injured even before the series started, Australia have some high quality pacers in Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Jackson Bird. The relentless Hazlewood has shone in Test cricket with his pitiless line and length bowling. He, alongside Starc, has been the backbone of Australia’s seam attack and comparisons with Glenn McGrath are warranted.
Pat Cummins, on the other hand, played Tests after a long hiatus in the Indian tour and bowled exceptionally well in the absence of Mitchell Starc. He bowled with pace, heart and venom and troubled the likes of Kohli and Pujara with his bounce even on Indian pitches. Bird, although unlikely to start, has shown his capabilities in the sub-continent during a Sri Lankan tour and should he get a chance could prove his worth.
The Bangladesh batsmen haven’t had to face such scorching pace as like Cummins in the recent past and they might just fail to adjust given that Hazlewood and Lyon also offer no respite.
Australia’s revamped batting unit
Australia have a new look batting line-up since the South Africa series at home and two of them, Matt Renshaw and Peter Handscomb, have ironed out a lot of the flaws at the top and in the middle-order.
With Usman Khawaja set to return and Glenn Maxwell showing composure and temperament against spin bowling in the sub-continent, Bangladesh have huge reasons to be worried about.
This Australian batting line-up has it all. From David Warner’s ominous presence at the top to Steven Smith’s reliability to Glenn Maxwell’s X-factor, the visitors have it all. They were the only team to put up a fight against India at home and despite losing the series, they would surely have picked up a thing or two.
The Lyon factor and why spinning pitches could backfire
Bangladesh surely do not have the pace attack to threaten the dominating visiting batsmen and this could mean that pitches might well be turning from day 2. Given that Bangladesh have a plethora of turning options in Mehedi Hasan Miraz, Shakib-al-Hasan, Taijul Islam and Nasir Hossain, the focus will definitely be in the spinners.
But laying out turning tracks could backfire for the hosts. Australia themselves gave India testing times courtesy Steven O’Keefe and Nathan Lyon and although the former isn’t in the touring party this time around, Ashton Agar, Mitchell Swepson and Glenn Maxwell are.
The visitors are likely to play Lyon and Agar with Maxwell as the all-rounder although Swepson for Agar is also a possibility. Given that they have options in plenty in this department, Bangladesh cannot sit back and relax after preparing a turning track.
The form of some of their own batsmen
The likes of Mushfiqur Rahim, Mominul Haque, Soumya Sarkar and Sabbir Rahman aren’t in great touch, especially in home Tests and this could prove to be a tricky conundrum for the hosts.
While Tamim Iqbal, Shakib-al-Hasan and Imrul Kayes have scored heavily in the past few months, much of their batting has heavily depended on the trio. If the others cannot do the supporting act to perfection, Bangladesh have more concerns than they might have initially anticipated.