What might have been. England could easily have been preparing for this Test on the back of defeat, with a side displaying manifest weaknesses, and with a tour of India around the corner having failed to arrange any practice matches before the first Test. Resting players, rotating the seamers and giving debuts to the next bright young things would have been the last thing on the minds of captain and coach, as they sought desperately to avoid an embarrassing series defeat against one of the weakest (but improving) sides in world cricket.
But they won. And that’s ultimately the point, for hard luck stories and what might have beens are always the refuge of the desperate. Bangladesh will – or at least should – feel they missed a real opportunity to beat England. Whether they can raise themselves to put in a similar display will perhaps be the biggest question of this match, and it would not be a surprise if England were to win comfortably given the narrow escape at Chittagong, even though there’s no reason to suppose so based on the performances.
It seems likely that the hosts will look to prepare a result pitch, not least because the weather forecast for Dhaka is iffy with a cyclone heading towards the city. It would be an immense shame if weather denied Bangladesh at least the opportunity of putting England under the same kind of pressure as they did first time round.
The ECB will deny it of course (don’t they always?) but this second Test was clearly intended to be a warm up fixture for the India series. The lack of any intervening practice matches between tours made that clear, and the rumours verging on fact from the press that changes will be made to the side make it abundantly clear where the priorities lie. Given the schedule, it’s understandable to do that, but Bangladesh can be forgiven if they feel a little slighted.
Zafar Ansari seems likely to be given a debut, probably at the expense of Gareth Batty, while the word is that Stuart Broad will make way for Steven Finn. The batting appears likely to remain unchanged, despite the status of Gary Ballance as the whipping boy of the media these days. England won despite the lack of contributions from Cook and Root, and however unfair it might be that Ballance copped the bulk of the stick, those two are the ones who will need to perform in India for England to have a chance. Jos Buttler it appears will have to wait for his chance.
Bangladesh are likely to be unchanged, with the requirement that they perform better all round than in the first match. Their batting line up is a decent one these days and plenty of them got starts in both innings. Converting that into substantial scores remains their biggest challenge, for they have the bowling to trouble anyone at home.
Chittagong was a terrific Test match, if we can have something similar this time, then it’ll be required viewing.
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