DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Emboldened by the return of allrounder Shakib Al Hasan, Bangladesh is ready to finally challenge Pakistan.
The teams will start their second and final cricket test on Saturday. Pakistan won the first by eight wickets and also swept Bangladesh 3-0 in a Twenty20 series before that.
Shakib missed all of those matches with a hamstring injury sustained during the Twenty20 World Cup. He was included into the first test squad but then failed a late fitness test.
“For me, as a captain, everything gets easier when Shakib is around,” Bangladesh skipper Mominul Haque said. “Everything is fine with him at this moment. You know he is a player with two in one. He is such a player who can give us the combination we are comfortable with. We now can return to our traditional combination of four bowlers and seven batsmen.”
Mominul, however, is waiting for a fitness report on fast bowler Taskin Ahmed, who injured his right hand during the third T20 against Pakistan.
Bangladesh's pace bowling struggled in the first test, claiming only two wickets. Pakistan's fast bowlers had 16 wickets.
“We have to assess his condition tomorrow before the toss," Mominul said of Taskin. "But since New Zealand series is coming up, I don’t think we’ll take any risk with him.”
Bangladesh’s top order faltered in both innings of the first test, being reduced to 49-4 and 39-4, which also played a key role in the loss.
“The first hour of the test cricket is always important but unfortunately our top order collapsed in the first hour in both innings of the first test,” Mominul said. “I think everyone is now aware of how important the first hour is. Our main strength is our batting. We have to bat at least six sessions to put pressure on Pakistan bowlers. We are here to win the game, so we hope we’ll come back strongly.”
Pakistan has won 11 out of 12 matches between the two sides, with one draw.
“We will play the same aggressive brand of cricket that we showed in the first test,” Pakistan pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi said. “I am enjoying my bowling partnership with Hasan (Ali). We shared the responsibility between us. When Hasan attacked, my job is to contain and when I attack, Hasan has the role of containing. Hopefully we’ll be successful in our strategy again in the second test.”
More AP cricket: https://apnews.com/hub/cricket and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports