CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh (AP) Bangladesh is on the verge of achieving the once-unthinkable: a series victory over Australia.
After securing a 20-run win in the first test, the home side will look to wrap up the series in the deciding second test that starts on Monday at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, Chittagong, a venue that historically favors the spinners.
Bangladesh spinners took all but one of Australia’s 20 wickets in the series-opening test, with Shakib claiming 10.
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Australia’s historic batting issues on pitches in subcontinental Asia again came to the fore in the first meeting that followed a 2-1 series loss in India earlier this year and a 3-0 defeat in Sri Lanka in 2016.
”The Australia team is very strong and they will come back hard. We know that. But our boys are also pretty fresh and they are very consistent in Chittagong also. So if we do the right things I think the result will come our way,” Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim said.
Bangladesh came close to winning series against England and Sri Lanka but was forced to settle for draws.
In the previous 16 years of its test history, the Bangladeshis have just three series victories-against Zimbabwe (twice in 2005 and 2014) and a second-string West Indies (2009) team affected by a player strike.
”It’s hard to get the Australia team under pressure so we must take our opportunity to win the series,” Rahim said. ”Some become wrapped in happiness but we have talked about this. But we don’t get these chances every day. We are 1-0 ahead but Australia will respond strongly. We bounced back well in our last two series. It proves the progress in our mental capacity.”
Australia have recalled left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe for the injured Josh Hazlewood and could play him alongside their frontline spinners Nathan Lyon and Ashton Agar.
”I think the inclusion of O’Keefe into the squad is a good one, it gives us the option to play three spinners if we like,” Australia captain Steven Smith said.
”Bangladesh did that against us last week and it’s just a nice option to change your bowlers around so you never really settle against anyone. If it’s really spinning it’s a good option. There’s a possibility that we go in with that.”
The only previous time Australia played a test in Chittagong in 2006, the visitors won by an innings and 80 runs with nightwatchman Jason Gillespie scoring an unbeaten double century.
Australia’s test ranking could slide to as low as sixth if it loses the second test.
”We’re down 1-0 in this series and we need to win this test match to level the series,” Smith said. ”We’ve got to come out and play a lot better than we did last week. Bangladesh will be full of confidence after the way they played last week. We’re going to have to play a lot better than we did last week.”