Bangladesh may be rusty in Tests being away from it for nearly 15 months, but captain Mushfiqur Rahim wants to put their worries to bed by stepping up to the challenge.
He has urged the Tigers to make up for their lack of practice with mental fortitude as Bangladesh gear up to take on England in the first Test in Chittagong on Thursday morning.
Although this is their longest gap between Test fixtures, Bangladesh, ranked ninth in the five-day game, play a much fewer number of Tests compared with the teams sitting above them in rankings.
England, on the other hand, play the highest number of Tests among all the 10 Test-playing nations. Alastair Cook and his men have played 16 matches in the time Bangladesh spent their longest time away from Tests after the South Africa series last year.
Although Bangladesh will be playing in home conditions, Cook and pacer Stuart Broad believes the lengthy gap in Bangladesh’s Test fixtures gives England an advantage over the hosts.
But Mushfiqur does not want to think about that now.
“If we start thinking about these things, then we are going on the back foot. Now is the time to play and we are focusing on that,” the skipper said on Wednesday.
“Of course, this will be a great challenge for us… [but] nothing is impossible, because mentally and physically we will have to maybe do more than we have had to for the last 10, 11 years.”
Mushfiqur pointed out that mental resilience will come into play over their five days on the field.
“The most important thing is being mentally tough. We have practised different things in the last couple of days in that regard, and I hope we will be able to translate that on the field,” he said.
“We will try to play consistent cricket over five days, take it session by session. On that count, the senior players we have are ready, and the junior players, if they are selected, will also be ready,”.
The long gap of Test fixtures also means a prolonged break in Mushfiqur’s captaincy of the Tigers.
“I am being addressed as captain after a long time, it’s nice to hear,” the wicket-keeper batsman said.
Mushfiqur, however, has no illusions about who the favourites are for the forthcoming contest.
“Obviously, the way England are playing in the last few years, especially overseas as well as at home, clearly they are the favourites in the Tests.”
He added, “But we were the favourites in the ODI series, and we ended up losing, so it doesn’t matter.”
Mushfiqur also had no qualms about his batsmen’s ability to endure the rigours of Test matches.
“Bangladesh have five, six batsmen who play all three formats. Whether it is Imrul [Kayes], Shakib [Al Hasan], Tamim [Iqbal], [Mahmudullah] Riyad or Mominul [Haque] – they are all in good form.
“So if someone from the top four can play a big innings and we get more than 300 in the first innings it will be a big plus for us.”
The match is set to begin at 10am at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury S