Eng­land pon­der open­ing co­nun­drum for se­ries

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

ENG­LAND will use the two-test se­ries in Bangladesh to solve se­lec­tion is­sues and pre­pare for the po­ten­tially tougher se­ries they face over the com­ing months.

Alas­tair Cook’s side next travel to In­dia, the world’s top-ranked team, be­fore host­ing South Africa and West Indies in 2017 ahead of their ul­ti­mate chal­lenge in a tour of Aus­tralia.

Cook’s lat­est open­ing part­ner is the most press­ing mat­ter to re­solve with 19-year-old Haseeb Hameed and Ben Duck­ett, 22, in con­tention to get the job in place of Alex Hales, who opted to miss the tour due to se­cu­rity con­cerns.

Hameed is favourite hav­ing en­joyed a pro­lific county sea­son with Lan­cashire in which he bat­ted with great ma­tu­rity and dis­played a sound de­fen­sive tech­nique.

“There’s a re­ally nice calm aura about him when he’s prac­tis­ing, and cer­tainly in the mid­dle, when I’ve played against him twice this year,” Eng­land fast bowler Stu­art Broad said.

Duck­ett is a more at­tack­ing player, a fierce cut­ter and puller of the ball, and many be­lieve he would pro­vide a more suit­able foil for the ob­du­rate and dis­ci­plined Cook, par­tic­u­larly against the inexperienced Bangladesh seam bowlers.

Eng­land could opt to play Duck­ett in the mid­dle or­der in place of Gary Bal­lance, who has not ce­mented his place af­ter be­ing re­called to the side this year.

Bangladesh, who are play­ing their first test in nearly 15 months, have im­proved sig­nif­i­cantly in lim­ited-overs cricket, es­pe­cially at home where they did not lose a bi­lat­eral ODI se­ries in two years until Eng­land snapped that streak last week.

They have tra­di­tion­ally strug­gled to sus­tain the in­ten­sity over five days, how­ever, and the lack of ex­pe­ri­ence in their pace at­tack also com­pro­mises their abil­ity to take 20 wick­ets in a test.

The hosts have packed four spe­cial­ist spin­ners into their squad and skip­per Mush­fiqur Rahim will be count­ing on all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan to help the side prove they be­long at test level. The first of the two tests starts to­mor­row in Chittagong. – Reuters

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