Aussies feeling the pressure: Mushfiqur | cricket.com.au

Advertisement

Aussies feeling the pressure: Mushfiqur

Bangladesh skipper believes Australia's failure to name a Test XI on match eve is a sign they're feeling the heat ahead of the Ashes

Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim believes the lingering questions over the balance of Australia's side for the second Test is a sign they're feeling the heat ahead of this summer's Magellan Ashes series.

Steve Smith didn't name an XI on the eve of Monday's match, with the skipper confirming Australia are considering axing wicketkeeper Matthew Wade and handing the gloves to Peter Handscomb.

Such a move would free up an extra spot for another bowler or potentially allrounder Hilton Cartwright. Meanwhile, No.3 Usman Khawaja, one match into his return to the Test side, could also face the chop.

Mushfiqur sympathised with his 'keeping counterpart Wade, who conceded 30 byes in the first Test, given the volatility of the Mirpur pitch - however, the Banglades skipper appeared convinced Australia had already made the decision to drop him.


"It was a bit difficult to keep to be honest because on that track it's very hard,” said Mushfiqur, who let through 22 byes of his own for the match. 

"It (was) going up and down. In the subcontinent when the wicket is like this, it's very difficult. 

"I think that's their strategy: if he (Handscomb) 'keeps, probably they will go with more batsman or one extra spin option. 

"So I think that’s their decision."  

After only getting a brief look at the Chittagong wicket table during their first training session on Saturday, Smith didn't have the chance to view the pitch at all on Sunday as ground staff kept the covers on with monsoonal showers lashing the city.

Australia are often (though not always) forthcoming with their XI the day before a Test, but without a proper read on the conditions, Smith will justifiably wait until the toss on Monday to confirm his XI.

Selection puzzle remains on Test eve

But Mushfiqur said the fact his counterpart did not name a team suggested the tourists were under the pump to perform in their final outing in the Baggy Green before they take on England this summer.

"I think they are a bit under pressure because they have to win this match and they know how important it is before … the Ashes," the 50-Test veteran said. 

"They know they are under pressure, because normally they announce the XI (a day before the match). In this case they haven’t announced the XI. 

"But, the Australia team are 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."

Tigers hold nerve in historic win over Australia

As expected, Mushfiqur also did not reveal the Bangladesh XI for the second Test.

With their two fast bowlers from Dhaka – Mustafizur Rahman and Shafiul Islam – bowling just 15 overs between them for the match (and just one in the second innings), the Tigers could be tempted to shore up their batting by swapping out one of their quicks.

And while Mushfiqur insists there is intense pressure on Australia, Bangladesh too have plenty riding on this match.

A win or a draw for the Tigers in Chittagong will see them claim their first-ever Test series victory over a side other than Zimbabwe or West Indies.

Steve Smith inspects the Chittagong pitches // Getty
Steve Smith inspects the Chittagong pitches // Getty

And unless the bucketing rain that's affected both teams' preparations for this Test continues into the coming week, Mushfiqur's bold words would suggest a draw is unlikely.

"There is no way we will play safe cricket," he said. 

"We always play to win against every side. We could have played for a draw against England (last year when Bangladesh lost by 22 runs on the final day) by using a flat surface, but we didn’t do it. 

"We wanted to look for a result by using our strengths. 

"Safe cricket is not an option for us because you can’t win against a side like this.

"We have to be more aggressive than them." 

Australia in Bangladesh 2017

Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Ashton Agar, Jackson Bird, Hilton Cartwright, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Steve O'Keefe, Matthew Renshaw, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade.

Bangladesh squad: Mushfiqur Rahim (c), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Imrul Kayes, Shakib Al Hasan, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Sabbir Rahman, Nasir Hossain, Liton Das, Taskin Ahmed, Shafiul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Taijul Islam, Mominul Haque.


27-31 August First Test, Dhaka, Bangladesh won by 20 runs


4-8 September Second Test, Chittagong