The Bangladesh National Test Cricket team returns to action this week for the first time since the Tigers’ historic March 19 defeat of Sri Lanka in the 100th Test played by Bangladesh since the country was granted Test status in 2000. But this time, the opponent is the world’s third-ranked Test side and perennial cricket powerhouse Australia, who will be playing Test matches in Bangladesh for only the second time ever — and the first time since 2006.
Australia visited Bangladesh for a limited-overs series in 2011, but has not returned to take on the Tigers on their home turf in any cricket format in the last six years. But the two nations have squared off in cricket’s longest and most prestigious format only four times, with Australia sweeping all four matches. The last Test series between the two nations in Bangladesh came more than 11 years ago, in April of 2006.
In fact, Bangladesh has won only nine of their 100 Test matches since their debut in the format in November of 2000, when they visited India and dropped a single match by nine wickets.
But coming off their ninth win when they defeated Sri Lanka in March by four wickets, a contest that was also their first away victory against a major Test nation, the Tigers hope to solidify their place among the elite Test teams by taking least one of their two matches against Australia — and on Sunday, they released the final makeup of their 14-man squad.
In fact, the BCB first revealed the Test side for the series opening Sunday, August 27, the day before, but the announcement immediately ran into controversy when ailing Mosaddek Hossain was ruled out with an eye infection that doctors say will require at least 15 days to clear up. The BCB named 25-year-old all-rounder Nasir Hossain as his replacement, leaving Mominul out.
“Mominul made just one fifty in the last six innings,” Bangladesh Chief Selector Minhajul Abedin explained on Saturday. “He was dropped because of his form.”
Abedin’s explanation, however, was not good enough for the Bangladesh cricket media and under public pressure, BCB boss Nazmul Hassan called a meeting with Abedin and the selection committee — and following that meeting, a new squad was announced, with Mominul’s name on the list. Hassan claimed that had he met with the selectors initially, he would have overruled their decision to drop the 25-year-old who has played 22 Tests and 40 innings since his debut in 2013, and has never been dropped from the squad. Mominul has scored 1,688 runs, for an average of 46.88, with four centuries and 11 50s in his career.
“There’s no need to create controversy. Anybody would feel bad seeing Mominul out of the squad,” Hassan said after the final decision was announced.
Not as fortunate, however was 31-year-old veteran Mahmudullah Riyad, who was dropped due to poor form, according to Abedin. Mahmudullah was also left out of the side for the final Test in Sri Lanka — the match that resulted in the Tigers’ historic victory.
With that confidence-building win over Sri Lanka propelling Bangladesh into the long-awaited Test series, Australia Captain Steve Smith — despite the fact that the Tigers still rank a a lowly ninth on the ICC world Test table — says that he takes nothing for granted as his team enters the two-match series.
“It will be a challenging series. Bangladesh have played some brilliant cricket here,” Smith said shortly after the Australia squad arrived in Bangladesh on Saturday. “They beat England in a Test match here not too long ago. We are going to see it as a bit of a challenge. Hopefully we can come with the thing we learned from India and bring that into the game here.”
The first Bangladesh vs. Australia Test match is scheduled to open on Sunday, August 27, at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Mirpur, Dhaka, Bangladesh — late Saturday night for cricket fans viewing in the United States.
[Featured Image by Gareth Copley/Getty Images]