Australia taking on Bangladesh might seem like a one-sided affair in the offing but this Bangladesh outfit is on the rise and on home tracks, they have looked much better than when Australia last played them here in 2006.
Australia, meanwhile, suffered a series loss in India but took a lot of positives out of the tour, unlike the other teams that recently touched the Indian shores. With such confidence oozing performances against India, Australia would expect to brush aside Bangladesh but cricket doesn’t thrive on such assumptions.
Bangladesh have a decent record in the past year, having levelled a home series against England, before drawing level with Sri Lanka in their backyard by winning their 100th Test match. The series is touted to be a battle between Bangladesh’s spinners and Australia’s batsmen but there are a few other head to head clashes to watch out for.
JOSH HAZLEWOOD VS TAMIM IQBAL
With Mitchell Starc ruled out of the series, Josh Hazlewood is the leader of this Australian pace attack and it will be up to him to stop Bangladesh’s prolific run scorer, Tamim Iqbal. The flamboyant southpaw has been in terrific form for the hosts in recent times, racking up 934 runs at an average of 44.77 in 12 Tests since 2015.
He thrives on attacking the new ball but against a smart operator like Hazlewood, his task is cut out. The Australian pacer is the 3rd highest wicket-taker among fast bowlers in Tests since 2015, with 109 scalps in 28 Tests at 25.13. He thrives on stump to stump lines with movement off the deck and containing Tamim’s electrifying starts will be his main task in Bangladesh.
MEHEDI HASAN VS GLENN MAXWELL
The usually aggressive Glenn Maxwell showed that his game has a completely different side in India when he churned out a patient hundred, a 104 off 185 balls at Ranchi. “I know how bad it felt when I played that last game in Dubai and didn’t play again and I know how bad that felt. I just wanted to make it count, every opportunity I get”, he had said after his hundred. The words revealed his passion to perform for Australia in the Baggy Green and these are dangerous signs for the hosts.
Mehedi Hasan, who rebelled against the English on turning tracks is Bangladesh’s best bet against Maxwell. The off-spinner is fearless and does not hold back from a battle. He is not afraid to flight the ball and this trait could come in handy against Maxwell, who might be tempted by his loopy off-spinners. All said and done, it is one intriguing battle to wait for.
NATHAN LYON VS MUSHFIQUR RAHIM
Australia’s no.1 spinner was a revelation in India after scaling the boundaries of being dropped a few months back when South Africa visited Down Under. On the turning Bangladesh wickets, Lyon will have a critical role to play, especially against the host’s middle-order manned by the stylish Mushfiqur Rahim.
Bangladesh’s wicket-keeper batsman has had some tough times in home Tests of late with his average in the last seven home Tests dropping to the lowly 20s. He also has a profound weakness against off-spinners in his career, with him struggling against Muttiah Muralitharan (4 dismissals in 5 matches) Ravichandran Ashwin (3 dismissals in 2 matches) and Graeme Swann (3 dismissals in 4 matches) in the past.
He is yet to play a Test against the Aussies despite having played 54 Tests for Bangladesh and hence hasn’t faced Lyon before. Interesting times await when the tall offie turns it into the short-statured wicket-keeper batsman.
SHAKIB-AL-HASAN VS STEVEN SMITH
The unstoppable Steven Smith probably has a chink in his armour and Bangladesh would be delighted to know that it is against left-arm spinners. The Aussies skipper was dismissed by Ravindra Jadeja three times in the recent series and his average against the Saurashtrian stands at 39.0, considerably lower than his career average of 61.05.
He has also struggled against Rangana Herath, who has dismissed him five times in three matches and the innocuous Dean Elgar has also dismissed him once in Tests. Bangladesh have a terrific left-arm spinner in Shakib-al-Hasan, experienced and familiar with the conditions, and would look to exploit Smith’s weakness. If Shakib can get a grip over Smith, Bangladesh will have one huge headache ripped off.
MUSTAFIZUR REHMAN VS DAVID WARNER
The Fizz, as he is popularly called, Mustafizur Rehman probably has great biggest responsibility up his sleeve when Bangladesh take on Australia. It is to contain the pocket sized rocket that David Warner, his Sunrisers Hyderabad teammate, is. The duo have plied their trade together in the IPL and it is time to dig into each other’s weaknesses.
Mustafizur revels in his cutters and late swing and did exceptionally well against Sri Lanka of late. His new ball skills will, however, be tested against Warner’s disdainful approach. The Fizz isn’t much of a new ball bowler but against someone like David Warner he will have to find a way to create chances early on. The battle between these Hyderabad colleagues would be keenly watched by fans.