Pakistan not taking Bangladesh lightly, says Test captain ahead of tomorrow’s match

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Pakistan Test captain Azhar Ali has said that the team “is not taking [Bangladesh] lightly”, a day before the start of the two-Test series between both sides.

Speaking at a press briefing on Thursday in Rawalpindi — where the first Test will be held from February 7-11 — Ali said: “Bangladesh can be a very competitive side, can surprise you, so we are not taking them lightly. They have match winners in their team.”

Ali went on to say that he feels the side “has the opportunity” to win Test matches on the home ground. “We will try our best,” he added.

Speaking of the inclusion of fast bowlers in the composition, the Test captain said that home matches “are played according to your strength”.

“At the moment we feel that our fast bowling is a threat for our opposition,” he said.

When asked whether the Test squad has been selected keeping in mind the upcoming tour to England, where the pitch is similarly green, the captain said that playing beforehand in conditions that mirror foreign ground “is advantageous”.

He, however, was of the opinion that if the opposite side is such that merits making a spin-heavy side, then the team members can always be changed.

“We feel, though, that we will win Test matches with our fast bowlers.”

Speaking about the difference in the Bangladesh Test squad when compared to the 2015 side, the captain said: “Obviously they are missing a couple of their key players, but as I said earlier, as a home advantage, we can have an upper hand […] but nothing is won off the field. We have to do it on the field.”

Declining to comment on the ‘Playing XI’, Ali said that Fawad Alam had been included in the 16-member squad “based on his performances and ability”.

“All the members in the squad are such that can be included in the ‘Playing XI’ which is why they are even named in the 16-member squad,” he explained.

“Whenever he plays, he will perform, InshaAllah […] not only Fawad Alam, whoever it is, once given the opportunity, will perform.”

Commenting on the inclusion of Faheem Ashraf in the side, Ali agreed that the decision had been made keeping in mind the England tour and the way the team’s bowling attack is being developed.

“We are not yet in the ideal situation yet in terms of an all-rounder fast bowler who can support us on foreign ground as the fourth fast bowler. When three bowlers play, they have to bowl repeatedly and that tires them out.

“So we are focused on creating that ideal combination right now where we have all-rounder fast bowlers in the mix.”

Bangladesh was originally scheduled to play three Twenty20 Internationals and two Test matches, but agreed to split the tour into three phases because it did not want to stay in Pakistan for a longer duration due to security concerns.

The side will return to Pakistan in April for a one-off One-day International and the second and final Test at the National Stadium in Karachi.

Pakistan won the T20 series 2-0 last month at Lahore, with the third game abandoned because of rain.

Bangladesh lost 3-0 to Pakistan in its last test series in 2003, which included the home teams nail biting one-wicket victory at Multan.

Leading Bangladesh player Mushfiqur Rahim, who didn’t travel to Pakistan for last month’s Twenty20 series, has also opted out of the Test match at Rawalpindi.

Bangladesh is the second Test country to tour Pakistan since the resumption of international cricket.

In December, Sri Lanka toured the country for 16 days and played Test matches at Rawalpindi and Karachi.

It was the first Test series in Pakistan in more than a decade after a 2009 attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team bus at Lahore killed eight people killed and injured several players.

Bangladesh squad: Mominul Haque (captain), Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudullah, Soumya Sarkar, Liton Das, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Mohammad Mithun, Nayeem Hasan, Saif Hassan, Taijul Islam, Abu Jayed, Al-Amin Hossain, Rubel Hossain, Ebadot Hossain.

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