Spin set to dominate as Bangladesh and Afghanistan prepare for maiden Test showdown

Waseem Ahmed 4/09/2019
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Bangladesh have adopted a spin-heavy approach.

Bangladesh and Afghanistan are set for their maiden red-ball meeting as the two sides get ready to lock horns in a one-off Test at Chattogram which gets underway on Friday.

Bangladesh turned heads when they named a spin-heavy bowling attack for the Test with as many as five spinners including skipper Shakib Al Hasan included in the 15-man squad. Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Taijul Islam, Mosaddek Hossain and Nayeem Hasan are the four other spinners in the Bangladesh squad while only three pacers have been picked overall.

Some have questioned the hosts’ spin heavy approach for the one-off Test but Shakib is having none of it.

“We don’t criticise England and Australia for picking four seamers and no spinners,” Shakib stated on the eve of the Chattogram Test.

“So, I am not too bothered about it. We will try to win with one, two or three seamers, but we must stick to our plan.

“Whenever our spinners have got their preferred type of pitches, they have done well at home. Having said that, they (Afghanistan) also have quality spinners. I feel the batting of both teams will make the difference.”

For Afghanistan, it will be their third Test meeting since they gained full ICC membership along with Ireland last year. They were beaten comprehensively by India in their maiden clash in the format before they beat Ireland in a one-off Test at Dehradun earlier this year in March.

It will be the first Test in charge as skipper for Rashid Khan and the ace leg-spinner wants his side to learn quickly in the format instead of concentrating on results.

“We are new in this format,” Rashid stated.

“We cannot be expected to beat Australia in our third or fourth game. I think over time we will get better, like we saw Bangladesh beating Australia. Once we get everything right, we can beat other teams.

“But experience-wise, you need to play more matches in this format. We have the experience and knowledge of ODIs and T20Is, but it takes time in Test cricket. The quicker we learn, the better we will become.”

The 20-year-old was last month appointed as Afghanistan skipper across all three formats following the team’s disastrous 2019 World Cup campaign where they failed to win a single match.

The Afghanistan captaincy has been a mess in recent times with the board initially appointing three different skippers for the various formats. It was Rahmat Shah who was initially slated to lead the Test side but the World Cup disaster led the Afghanistan Cricket Board to appoint Rashid instead in all three formats.

Despite the frequent captaincy changes, Rashid will not allow the pressure of the job to affect his game.

“Captaincy won’t be a burden on me,” he said.

“Senior cricketers like Mohammad Nabi and Asghar Afghan are always helping me. I won’t put myself under extra pressure.

“I am focused fully on my bowling, and I don’t know who is the captain. I will try to keep enjoying what I do, be relaxed and as cool as possible. If I take pressure, it will affect my performance and put my team under pressure too.”

Afghanistan are not a part of the inaugural ICC World Test Championship and the one-off clash against Bangladesh will not have any bearing on the tournament for either side.

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Australia skipper Tim Paine opted to bat after winning the toss at Old Trafford, as the Ashes comes to a head in the fourth Test at Old Trafford.

Steve Smith has returned in place of the struggling Usman Khawaja, while left-arm quick Mitchell Starc replaces Peter Siddle.

England have changed up their bowling attack as the out-of-form Chris Woakes drops out for paceman Craig Overton.

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Ashes 2019: Australia skipper Tim Paine left sleepless by Ben Stokes dilemma

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Australia captain Tim Paine admits he has “lost a bit of sleep” pondering what to do about England’s hero of Headingley, Ben Stokes.

The fourth Ashes Test begins at Emirates Old Trafford on Wednesday, with the series still alive almost entirely because of Stokes.

The Durham all-rounder’s 135 not out, 74 of which were scored in a transformative last-wicket stand with Jack Leach, has already entered the annals of all-time great Test innings and has been occupying Paine’s mind ever since.

Asked if he feared for his future as captain should England complete their comeback and win the series, he said: “No, I haven’t lost a hell of a lot of sleep thinking about my captaincy but I have lost a bit of sleep thinking how we’re going to get him (Stokes) out, that’s for sure.

“He’s a class player and he’s really confident at the moment. He’s going well. We’ve got some plans for him but we’ve just got to execute them a bit better.”

Only Steve Smith has scored more runs in the series than Stokes, 378 versus 327 with a pair of centuries each, and he did not even take the field in Leeds.

That was, of course, due to a concussion dished up by a 92mph bouncer from Jofra Archer and the mention of the pace bowler’s name appeared to chip away at Paine’s usually calm demeanour.

Archer claimed last week the opposition “panicked” during Stokes’ onslaught, words that seem to have struck a nerve.

“Jofra’s entitled to his opinion, he’s had plenty of those that’s for sure,” said Paine.

“I was told a few things when I was down in Derby – I haven’t actually seen the quotes – but, yeah, talk is talk and we are here to play this Test match.

“We made some mistakes, it happens. We’ve addressed it as a team, we’ve spoken about it honestly. I was certainly one of those people who made mistakes. But what’s happened in the past has happened and Jofra is entitled to his opinion. It doesn’t faze us one way or another.”

Smith’s return has forced a tough decision from the touring selectors, with Usman Khawaja axed following Marnus Labuschagne’s impressive stand-in performances.

The 32-year-old is seen as a potential heir to Paine as Baggy Green captain and his omission for such a big game cannot have been taken lightly.

“Usman’s obviously a key player in our side batting at number three but he hasn’t scored the runs that he or we would like,” explained Paine.

“So with Steve Smith coming back it was a tough decision to make on Usman, but we think he’s still got a lot of cricket left in him, he’s had a very good Test record over his career, and we expect he will bounce back pretty strongly.”

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Provided by Press Association Sports

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