Bangladesh will play India in the Second Test of their series beginning in Mirpur on Thursday, December 22nd.
The tourists won the first match in the series in Chittagong by 188 runs, a result that, coupled with the defeat of South Africa by Bangladesh, enabled them to leapfrog the Australians in the WTC (World Test Championship) standings.
However, India will not want to take their foot off the gas at this stage – it is still tight in the race for second behind the Australians, and they will want to maximise their return from this series, to keep alive their hopes of playing in the final at The Oval next June.
Head to head
The win in Chittagong took India’s record against Bangladesh in test cricket to ten wins out of twelve matches played, with the other two games finishing as draws.
It has been decided that Rohit Sharma has not fully recovered from the thumb injury he incurred playing in the second ODI in Mirpur, with him still reporting some stiffness in the area. Given the amount of cricket India face in the New Year, it is not worth risking him at this stage, so KL Rahul will continue to deputise as captain (with Cheteshwar Pujara his vice skipper).
Meanwhile, Ravindra Jadeja, although he was originally named in the Indian squad for the Bangladesh tests is still not fully fit as he continues his rehabilitation from the freak knee injury he picked up in the Asia Cup at the end of August.
Bangladesh have been dealt a blow with the news that pace bowler Ebadot Hossain has been ruled out of the match with a back injury. Shoriful Islam is also unavailable after injuring a hamstring during practice. Given that Tamim Iqbal is also missing through injury, their ranks have been somewhat depleted for this match.
However, they have named spinner Nasum Ahmed in their 15 man squad who could be in line to make his test debut having impressed for them in white ball cricket, the T20I format in particular.
World Test Championship standings
That win in the first Test, combined with Australia’s victory over South Africa inside two days in the first match of their own series, helped create a big swing in the overall World Test Championship standings, and enabled India to leapfrog the South Africans.
With a home series against Australia wrapping up the current WTC cycle, another win in Mirpur would really consolidate India’s place in the standings.
Pakistan’s hopes of being involved in the WTC final have been dealt a terminal blow by England who have just whitewashed them in front of their own fans.
The weather should be mainly sunny throughout the match, although it could be cloudy on Sunday (if it gets that far). Temperatures are not expected to exceed 21 degrees Celsius.
Although Bangladesh may consider it a good omen that they won the two ODIs in Mirpur to clinch that particular series, test cricket is a different proposition altogether, and the fact that the pitch tends to favour the batting side will not do the home team any favours.
Mix into the equation that the spinners are likely to have some joy, then Ravichandran Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav will be looking forward to getting the ball in their hands.
Winning the toss on this ground is important, because 60% of all tests won here have gone to the test that batted first.
It is hard to look beyond another Indian win, and probably a convincing one, in this match. Not only is the weight of history against the home side, but their morale would have been damaged by the manner and size of the defeat in Chittagong. And injuries mean that they go into this match weaker in terms of personnel, certainly in the pace bowling department.
India have every incentive to win, because they now have qualification for the WTC final in their grasp, and they will not want to let it go.
Individuals will want to impress though. Shubman Gill scored his maiden test century in Chittagong, and, in the continued absence of Rohit, will want to press his claims as a potential opener for India for the longer-term.
And then there is Kuldeep Yadav who was the best bowler in the first Test, but has been in and out of the side over the past year. This is potentially a great opportunity for him to showcase his credentials again at this level.
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