Pakistan hopes to recover while Bangladesh looks to keep dominating as the current cricket series between the two rival nations continues this week with the first of two Test matches that will close out the Pakistan tour.
So far, the Pakistan tour, which was finalized in early April just a couple of weeks ahead of the first One Day International match on April 17, has been an unqualified disaster for the tourists, while for the hosts each of the four games played so far has proven more historic than the one before.
After losing 46 of the 47 matches in all formats of cricket played between the two countries, Bangladesh has humiliated their visitors from Pakistan — the country from which Bangladesh broke in a bloody war of independence 44 years ago — by sweeping the three-match ODI series that opened the tour, then cruising to a one-sided victory in the lone T20 match.
But can Bangladesh continue their dominance now that the tour has moved into the Test match phase, the most arduous and difficult and traditional format of the sport?
Two factors would seem to favor the Bangladesh side. First, the psychological damage inflicted in the Pakistan players from losing four matches to a side they’ve always considered inferior.
“This was a simple case of having a ‘no respect’ clause for Bangladesh cricket as the Pakistan Cricket Board may have considered this series to be a walk-in-the-park,” wrote commentator Yousef Rahman in the Dhaka Tribue newspaper.
“After all, Pakistan had not lost an ODI against Bangladesh since 1999. That loss in Bangladesh’s inaugural World Cup campaign was taken by most Pakistanis as a game that was intentionally thrown to strengthen Bangladesh’s claim for full membership.”
And the second factor — injuries. Before the tour even began, Pakistan lost Sohail Khan, Ehsan Adil, Yasir Shah, and Sohaib Maqsood to the injury bug. Now fast bowler Rahat Ali has gone down as well, a hamstring injury sending him home and out of not just the first test, but the second and final test match of the tour as well.
On the Bangladesh side, however, there is also a degree of uncertainty, as the Tigers announced Friday that they’ve called up three players who have never played an international test match before, much less a high-pressure one against an arch-rival.
Soumya Sharkar — who tallied 164 runs in the three ODI matches — will make his test debut, as will Litton Das, the leading batter in the Bangladesh domestic league. Fast bowler Mohammed Shahid is also called up to the 14-man test roster, mainly for his ability to bowl lengthy spells — obviously an important ability in five-day Test matches.
Bangladesh will again look to make cricket history by beating Pakistan in a test match for the first time, when the First Test starts at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Bangladesh Standard Time, at Sheikh Abu Naser Stadium, Khulna. The two countries have played just eight previous Test matches, all of them won outright by Pakistan.
[Image: International Cricket Council]