Aus­tralia wary of spin threat in Bangladesh

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - SPORT -

AUS­TRALIA are wary of the threat posed by Bangladesh’s spin­ners ahead of their two-test se­ries start­ing to­mor­row in Dhaka, bats­man Glenn Maxwell said.

The Aus­tralians have not won a test se­ries on the sub­con­ti­nent since 2011, when they beat Sri Lanka 1-0, and have been pre­par­ing hard for the slow and turn­ing tracks.

Steve Smith’s team have not played a test in Bangladesh in more than a decade and their prepa­ra­tions were ham­pered when their only prac­tice game was washed out be­cause of flood­ing in Fat­ul­lah.

The open­ing test at Mir­pur will be the first be­tween the coun­tries since Ricky Ponting’s side toured the coun­try in 2006, win­ning the two-match se­ries 2-0.

Part of the vis­i­tors’ drills this time has in­cluded bat­ting in the nets with­out a front pad, de­signed to em­pha­sise the im­por­tance of us­ing the bat in or­der to avoid leg-be­fore de­ci­sions against the slow bowlers.

De­spite their lack of match prac­tice, Maxwell, who suf­fered heat­stroke dur­ing train­ing this week, said he believed the tac­tic would help the Aus­tralians against an up­beat Bangladesh unit that has won two of their last three tests.

“If you don’t have the safety of your front pad it makes you get your leg out of the way and ac­tu­ally your bat,” he said.

“So I think it is more about re­fin­ing your de­fence and mak­ing sure you trust the fact that you can hit the ball and not hop­ing that your pads are there just to save you.

“It is more about guys who are hit­ting the stumps reg­u­larly and Bangladesh do that re­ally well. They bowl stump to stump and put pressure on your de­fence so I sup­pose that’s one thing we will work on.”

Aus­tralia’s most re­cent trips to the sub­con­ti­nent ended in de­feat. Last year, they lost 3-0 in Sri Lanka and ear­lier this year they were beaten 2-1 in In­dia.

Cur­rently ranked fourth in the world, the for­mer top-ranked team risk slip­ping fur­ther down the In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil rat­ings if they lose ei­ther test, or draw both matches.

Bangladesh, mean­while, are ap­proach­ing the se­ries as a great op­por­tu­nity to reg­is­ter their first test win against Aus­tralia since they were awarded test-play­ing sta­tus in 2000.

Spin­ners Shakib Al Hasan, Me­hedi Hasan and Tai­jul Is­lam, who com­bined for 20 wick­ets dur­ing their his­toric win against Eng­land last year, loom as the key play­ers for the hosts.

Star all-rounder Shakib is con­fi­dent his team’s home ad­van­tage and spin force will trou­ble their Aus­tralian coun­ter­parts.

The vis­i­tors are also expected to rely heav­ily on spin­ners in Dhaka by play­ing left-arm spin­ner Ash­ton Agar, for his first test in four years, along­side vet­eran off-spin­ner Nathan Lyon.

“I think our spin at­tack is bet­ter than them. I won’t say in all con­di­tions, but in our con­di­tions, we are bet­ter than them,” Shakib said.

“We need to do well in all as­pects if we want to win the tests. What­ever the strengths they have, Aus­tralia are al­ways tough op­po­si­tion.”

Tal­ented left-arm seamer Mustafizur Rah­man, who missed the Eng­land se­ries be­cause of in­jury, is set to bol­ster the pace at­tack for the Mush­fiqur Rahim-led side. Teams – Bangladesh: Mush­fiqur Rahim (cap­tain), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Im­rul Kayes, Li­ton Das, Shakib Al Hasan, Mominul Haque, Nasir Hos­sain, Sab­bir Rah­man, Me­hedi Hasan, Shafiul Is­lam, Tai­jul Is­lam, Mustafizur Rah­man and Taskin Ahmed.

Aus­tralia: Steve Smith (cap­tain), David Warner, Ash­ton Agar, Hil­ton Cartwright, Pat Cum­mins, Peter Hand­scomb, Matthew Wade, Josh Ha­zle­wood, Us­man Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Matt Ren­shaw, Mitchell Swep­son and Jack­son Bird. – AFP

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