India will look for another all-round performance in Mirpur to give them a 2-0 series win and strengthen their chances of reaching the World Test Championship final. They crushed the home side in Chattogram, outperforming them at vital moments with someone or the other stepping up to keep them in front.
Cheteshwar Pujara played two good knocks while Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer and R Ashwin also did their job with the bat. Kuldeep Yadav had a good all-round outing with Mohammed Siraj critical in the first innings and Axar Patel picking up the key wickets in the second. The Chattogram pitch eased up after a tricky first day and became an excellent one to bat on, testing the bowlers’ stamina and persistence. The Shere Bangla National Stadium, however, is known for its raging turners, and might demand a different set of skills, particularly from the batters.
India’s bowling will be quite handy here. Siraj may get some lateral movement but the bulk of the workload may fall on Ashwin, Kuldeep and Axar. Where they had to be up for bowling long spells in Chattogram, they can expect a little more assistance here.
Bangladesh face an uphill task. Many believe their greatest challenge is to motivate themselves to be more consistent, but there were certainly moments in Chattogram when they fell short of India in the technical and tactical departments too. The likes of Litton Das and Mushfiqur Rahim have to lead them out of this rut. Zakir Hasan and Najmul Hossain Shanto have to follow up their good work from Chattogram too, with India likely to have come up with new plans for the former, who made a century on debut.
Whichever way it goes, expect a fast-moving contest in Mirpur with wickets falling in clusters.
Bangladesh LLLLD (last five Tests, most recent first)
In the spotlight
He doesn’t play often, but on a Chattogram pitch that offered slow turn, Kuldeep Yadav was a handful in his first Test after nearly two years. He ran through Bangladesh’s middle order and took 5 for 40 in the first innings, and played a key supporting role in the second with three more wickets. Kuldeep is expected to come into the game even more in Mirpur, where the ball also tends to keep low, especially with his ability to change trajectory subtly. Kuldeep’s other advantage is the total lack of practice Bangladesh’s batters get against left-arm wristspin, even in the nets.
Taskin Ahmed is likely to replace Ebadot Hossain, who is out with a back injury. No other changes are expected, with Shakib set to bowl.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Najmul Hossain Shanto, 2 Zakir Hasan, 3 Yasir Ali, 4 Litton Das, 5 Shakib Al Hasan (capt), 6 Mushfiqur Rahim, 7 Nurul Hasan (wk), 8 Mehidy Hasan Miraz, 9 Taijul Islam, 10 Taskin Ahmed, 11 Khaled Ahmed
India (probable): 1 Shubman Gill, 2 KL Rahul (capt)/Abhimanyu Easwaran, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara 4 Virat Kohli, 5 Rishabh Pant (wk), 6 Shreyas Iyer, 7 Axar Patel, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Umesh Yadav, 11 Mohammed Siraj
Pitch and conditions
The pitch at the Shere Bangla National Stadium will assist spinners for most of the Test, with run-scoring likely to be at its easiest on the first day. Expect the team winning the toss to bat first, and avoid having to bat in the fourth innings. The weather is expected to be dry.
Stats and trivia
- Zakir Hasan is the ninth batter to score a debut Test century in the fourth innings. Interestingly, the previous batter to achieve this feat, Kyle Mayers, also did it in Chattogram.
- Cheteshwar Pujara is 16 runs away from becoming the eighth India batter to the 7000 mark in Test cricket.
- If Axar Patel gets six wickets, he will become the joint fourth-fastest bowler to 50 in Tests, getting there in eight matches. Fred Spofforth, Alf Valentine, Rodney Hogg and Terry Alderman reached the landmark in their eighth Tests too. Vernon Philander and Tom Richardson got there in seven Tests, while Charles ‘The Terror’ Turner only needed six Tests to get to 50 wickets.
“Any selectors here? (Laughs) If I am talking out of the room a little bit, it will be the same three spinners and welcoming back Taskin. Khaled as well. Sorry to the selectors but I am talking out of the room a little bit. That’s what I can see happening. Good news is that Shakib is good to go. Looking at the pitch, I think he will very much come into play.”
Bangladesh fast-bowling coach Allan Donald spills the beans on their combination
“This wicket, even in the ODIs, we could see it had more help for bowlers, it had more pace. I’m sure this game will get decided. Looking forward to play a good game, and win it.”
India batting coach Vikram Rathour
*GMT 0520 The preview was updated after Allan Donald suggested Shakib would be fit to bowl.
**GMT 0850 The preview was amended to reflect news of the blow KL Rahul took to his hand at the nets.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84