DHAKA: Australia is wary of the threat posed by Bangladesh’s spinners ahead of their two-Test series starting on Sunday 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, a lay 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 a heatstroke during training this week, believes the tactic will 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.”
Maxwell added: “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. In 2016, 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.
– Spin force –
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,” said Shakib.
“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,” he added.
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.
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.