Despite Bangladesh drawing their recent two-Test home series against Zimbabwe 1-1, many will have given the visitors the edge as they stayed competitive throughout the series while Bangladesh's batting failed abjectly in the first Test, and it remains the Tigers' biggest concern.
The home batsmen eventually managed to snap the streak of eight consecutive sub-200 scores in the second Test in Mirpur, where Mushfiqur Rahim struck a magnificent double hundred and Mominul Haque registered his sixth Test ton. Stand-in skipper Mahmudullah Riyad joined in with his second Test ton in the second innings.
Riding on these contributions, Bangladesh managed to avoid humiliation and won the second Test comprehensively by 218 runs to level the after the 151-run loss in Sylhet.
The upcoming series against the West Indies will be even tougher for the hosts and according to head coach Steve Rhodes, the hard-fought series against Zimbabwe would do a lot of good for Bangladesh against the Caribbean side.
“I think at Sylhet and Mirpur, Zimbabwe made us fight all the way. Some people might be a little bit surprised at the1-1 result and the hard-fought series. I think it will do us a lot of good going into a contest against the West Indies, who are obviously going to be tough opposition. We needed to go there with some tough games under our belt. Zimbabwe proved to be a tough opposition. I was very pleased with the Mirpur result but as you said, we wanted more than 1-1,” Rhodes told reporters after the Tigers reached Chattogram yesterday.
Whether it is the team combination, the over-dependency on spin on home soil or even the top-order failures, there are a few areas of concerns for the Tigers as they prepare for a stronger opposition in the form of West Indies, who will have their tails up after a good outing in India in the ODI series.
“To be perfectly honest, we don't have many concerns. We are looking forward to the series against West Indies. They are excellent opposition, as we saw in June or July this year. Conditions are little bit different in Bangladesh, so hopefully we will have good games against them. They have got some injury problems with Jason Holder going home. We are without Tamim Iqbal; we wish him all the best to get back as quick as he could. It will be a good contest,” he said.
Facing quality fast bowling has always been a vulnerability of Bangladesh batsmen and Rhodes said that the likes of Shannon Gabriel, who proved vicious against Bangladesh during their last tour earlier this year, would once again play a crucial role in the Test series.
However, he added that they were not worried about the opposition and were rather focusing on their own strengths.
The wicket at the Zahur Ahmed Stadium in Chattogram pitch has always been a batsman's paradise, but when it comes to gaining the advantage of home conditions the Bangladesh team management has not been able to utilise the luxury properly in recent times.
“I had a good look with the captain [Shakib Al Hasan] and curator [Zahid Reza]. What we are doing now is gather as much information as possible from the curator. We are lucky that Shakib has played here a lot. He knows the wickets well, more than I do. It is a learning curve for me. You get wickets right and wrong. I won't be saying how it's going to play,” he said.