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Bangladesh ready for South Africa Test challenge: Mominul Haque

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DURBAN: Bangladesh captain Mominul Haque believes his team are well prepared ahead of the first Test against South Africa starting here at Kingsmead on Thursday.

“South Africa are playing at home and that is always an advantage. However, we have been here for nearly three weeks and the boys have adjusted to conditions,” Mominul said while speaking at a pre-match press conference on Wednesday.

Mominul and the other Test specialists had a training camp at former South African player and coach Gary Kirsten’s academy in Cape Town, while the ODI side were pulling off an historic series win against South Africa.

Bangladesh have lost all six Tests on three previous tours of South Africa and Kingsmead is an unknown factor for the current players, with Bangladesh having only once at the ground, when they lost to Canada in the 2003 World Cup.

Mominul said he was not sure how the pitch would play.

“There’s not too much point in thinking too much about the wicket. It could aid the pacers but still be good for batting. Spinners may come into play as the match progresses.”

Unlike on previous tours, Bangladesh will be looking to match South Africa with their fast bowlers.

Ebadot Hossain was the man-of-the-match when they won a Test in New Zealand in January, while Taskin Ahmed was the player of the ODI series against South Africa.

“The pace bowlers have been doing very well in recent times,” said Mominul.

“They have a lot of confidence coming into this Test series and the whole team has confidence in them.”

South African left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj, who plays his domestic cricket at Kingsmead, said earlier he was not sure how the pitch would play, with more grass on the surface than usual.

“I haven’t seen Kingsmead with the colour of the grass like this,” he said. “It’s a relaid surface.”

But he said he expected it to be a “traditional” first-class pitch.

With South Africa’s first-choice fast bowlers playing in the Indian Premier League, Maharaj is by a distance the most experienced Test bowler in the squad.

But he said he was confident that the replacement pace bowlers would be able to challenge the Bangladesh batsmen.

South Africa are without a number of their regulars, including their entire first-choice pace bowling attack, after players with Indian Premier League contracts opted out of the series.

Also missing are batsmen Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen for what will be a new-look, inexperienced home line-up.

Captain Dean Elgar has tried to put a positive spin on it, but it is a setback for a test side that has tended to blow hot and cold in recent times as it is.

“We have to make do with our next best that we have in the country, who I’m still very confident in,” Elgar told reporters.

“It’s a great opportunity for those guys to stand up and put those other players under pressure. I’m confident they can do that.”

Elgar says the team is determined to quickly erase the memory of a shock first-ever ODI series loss to Bangladesh earlier this month.

“What happened in the ODI series has hurt quite a lot of players. I wasn’t involved but I’m pretty hurt about the result. I’d like to think that has fuelled us,” he said.

“Our hunger is going to be right up there. We know this Bangladesh side is not one of old.

“They’re a new team with a westernised coaching staff who have changed their mindset with regards to how to play cricket in South Africa.”

Published in Dawn, March 31st, 2022

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