Which Australian made an unbeaten double century last time Australia toured Bangladesh?
No, it wasn’t Ricky Ponting or Matthew Hayden at the top. It wasn’t middle order stars Michael Hussey or Michael Clarke, and just when you think you’ve narrowed it down to legendary wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist, you’re wrong again.
Jason Gillespie is the answer. His 201* is a record score by a nightwatchman and it was Gillespie’s last Test. Fast forward eleven years and how things have changed.
The Tigers might still be regarded as minnows and their Test ranking supports that position, but they are no pushovers at home. They have drawn their last three Test series in Bangladesh and it was against quality opposition. They drew the one-off Test against India, albeit with a bit of help from the sky. Rain also severely affected their two Test series against South Africa, however they played well when on the field. Last year they squared the two Test series against England 1-1, and were 22 runs away from winning it.
Tamim Iqbal will open up and the left-hander has scored over three and a half thousand runs at a tick under forty. His partner, Soumya Sarkar, is also a left-hander and impressed against Sri Lanka, making three fifties in four innings. Their middle order is held together by Mahmudullah Riyad and the classy all-rounder, Shakib Al Hasan. Shakib averages over forty with the bat and his left-arm off-spin has snared 175 Test wickets.
Mustafizur Rahman will take the new ball. He has only played four matches, but got 4-37 against South Africa. The ball won’t stay in the hands of the quicks for long, with spin being their main modus operandi for taking wickets. Their options are; Shakib, 19-year-old Mehedi Hasan Mirza, who caused England plenty of problems, and young spinner Mosaddeck Hossain showed he can take wickets and make runs against Sri Lanka.
Steven Smith leads his team after a masterful individual performance in India earlier this year. He likes using his feet to combat the spinners and his efforts saw him make three hundreds against the feared duo, Ashwin and Jadeja. David Warner is the other world-class batsman at the top, and he will be looking to prove his skill on spinning pitches. Usman Khawaja looks likely to regain his spot after Shaun Marsh was left out of the squad, and Peter Handscomb will round out the middle order. Like Smith, Handscomb uses his feet well.
The all-rounder position (or positions) is intriguing. Glenn Maxwell, Ashton Agar and Hilton Cartwright are all in the squad. Maxwell and Agar look to be ahead of Cartwright. Matthew Wade is the sole keeper and then there are the bowlers.
Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins are the quicks, with James Pattinson recently joining Mitchell Starc on the sidelines. Nathan Lyon is the frontline spinner and his 8-50 in Bengaluru showed his potential in spinner-friendly conditions.
Earlier this year Bangladesh travelled to Sri Lanka and drew the two Test series 1-1. They batted last on spinning tracks in both Tests and walked away with a well-deserved draw. Australia lost an enthralling series in India early this year. They went down 2-1, with two bad sessions being the difference. They will take great confidence from that performance.
Australia last won in the sub-continent in 2011. They defeated Sri Lanka 1-0. Their form in Asia was disappointing after that, until this year’s Indian series.
Bangladesh has only won three series in their history. They defeated Zimbabwe twice at home, and beat the West Indies, away, in 2009.
These teams have played four Tests against each other. Australia has won them all. Three of the results were innings defeats, however the other match was hard-fought. Australia scored 307 in the fourth innings to win by three wickets.
It is currently monsoon season in Bangladesh and August is the wettest month. Dhaka averages over 300mm of rain during August.