Bangladesh struggle for Test bowling options

Chandika Hathurusingha faces a selection challenge © BCB

Bangladesh coach Chandika Hathurusingha has said that finding new players less than a week before the first Test against England is a formidable challenge.

It was a brutally realistic assessment of the home team’s prospects in their first Test in more than 14 months which they will play without three of their top fast bowlers Mashrafe Mortaza, Mustafizur Rahman and Taskin Ahmed.

These three bowlers have given Bangladesh’s ODI team a more all-round bowling outlook and provided match-winning options by playing together. But none of these are in contention for the first Test that starts from October 20.

Mustafizur, who is recovering from a shoulder surgery, is out until mid-December while Mashrafe’s knees hasn’t allowed him to play Test cricket since 2009.

Taskin has not been considered as a longer-version bowler since his international debut in 2014 but could now play red-ball cricket soon although Hathurusingha has major reservations about his pace of development.

A fair assessment of the Bangladesh Test squad is a number of blank spaces that don’t bode well for a fast-improving cricket nation.

Hathurusingha is focused on forming a new bowling attack though he admitted that there is very little to do than show patience with the tried and tested pace bowlers. Bangladesh will go into the game with a completely new attack which will be vastly different from the one that has been developed and somewhat succeeded in the limited overs format.

“I can’t try players at the international level, which is the unfortunate thing in Bangladesh cricket that we are facing,” Hathurusingha said. “This cannot happen. We are actually trying players at the national level. [Test cricket] is a bigger challenge than anything else.

“We have had lot of injuries and players lose form because we haven’t played for a long time. We don’t know where the fast bowlers are at this stage. It is a matter of just trusting the players that we have in our midst, and being patient.”

Apart from Taskin, the likes of Rubel Hossain, Shafiul Islam, and Al-Amin Hossain are front-runners to take up the new ball while newcomers Subashis Roy, Abu Hider, Kamrul Islam Rabbi and even the rookie Ebadat Hossain could be considered. All of these players are involved heavily in the Bangladesh nets at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium or at the practice match in the MA Aziz Stadium across town.

Hathurusingha said that his focus is on trying to stretch within his limited resources to put together a bowling attack but said he is without the weaponry required for a Test attack.

“You can’t have plans if you don’t have ammunition. You can manage what you have, and that’s what we are thinking. We will keep developing a strategy in the long-term.

“Don’t expect us to do miracles straight away. If we happen to win the game, well and good and we will be on our way. It will give us a lot of confidence. I am not too worried about what I don’t have. I am trying to maximize what we have,” he said.

Hathurusingha said that the decline of legspinner Jubair Hossain has been particularly frustrating since he was developing into a wicket-taking option since his Test debut in 2014. Jubair, who started off with 11 wickets in his first Test series, can’t find a place in his first-class team in this season’s National Cricket League.

“We haven’t got our right combination in Test cricket. I have been fighting to find bowlers who can get 20 wickets in Tests. We were looking for a legspinner who can take wickets but he [Jubair Hossain] has faded away.

“He had the skill, and we saw that at the start when he was on song. He won matches for us. In his second or third match, he took a Test five-for. In the India Test, he got two big wickets. I am very disappointed that the amount of time and energy we spent with him didn’t come to fruition.”

Hathurusingha said that readjusting to Test cricket will take Bangladesh some doing, since many haven’t played in the domestic first-class competition this season. He added that winning against England would be treated as a “bonus”.

“I think it is technical and mental adjustments. We haven’t played longer version, even at the domestic level, for a long time. The main players didn’t get to play NCL this season as well. It is the challenge in international cricket where they play a lot of matches in different formats. Switching mindset between formats is what they have to get used to,” he said.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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