Litton Das: Test experience gives us advantage over Afghanistan

Bangladesh

Bangladesh captain Litton Das believes their experience will give them the edge over Afghanistan in the one-off Test in Dhaka that begins on Wednesday. Litton is standing in for the regular captain Shakib Al Hasan who is out with a finger injury. His opposite number, Hashmatullah Shahidi, is also making his captaincy debut after being appointed two years ago.

The other similarity between the two captains is the absence of their best bowler, respectively, from their attacks. While Shakib is out for a few weeks with the injury, the Afghanistan Cricket Board has rested Rashid Khan “to prioritize his long-term fitness”. Litton played down Rashid’s absence although the legspinner took 11 wickets in the only Test between the two sides four years ago. He said that Bangladesh’s maturity in Tests will keep them ahead of the visitors.

“We will take them as seriously as we would have done with Rashid in their team,” Litton said. “Our last Test was in April after which we played a white-ball series. We play a lot of Tests, which gives us the advantage over them. It gives us a better level of maturity in this format. We don’t have a great idea about them. They play a lot of ODIs and T20s, which makes it hard to judge them in Tests. We have a plan in our mind, and if we can execute it, we will get a good result.”

Afghanistan captain Hashmatullah Shahidi said that they will miss Rashid, but they have options in both the pace and spin departments to make up for his absence. He said that legspinner Izharulhaq Naveed, who impressed during last season’s Big Bash League, could step up

“It will be challenging. We all know that Rashid is one of the main bowler in our team. He did very well in the past in Test matches. Still we have another option like wristspinners and they will perform well Insha Allah.

“He (Izharulhaq) played good cricket. He played in the Big Bash. T20 cricket is different. He did very good in the past in age-group cricket also and so he will be one of the biggest star in future for Afghanistan.

“I think both Shakib and Rashid are rested. We have good quality players and we have good quality players, and other options to win the game for us and I think that would be the point,” said Shahidi.

He was also confident that even if Mirpur dished out a greenish pitch, Afghanistan had the pace firepower to take advantage of it. “I think we saw the pitch today and they made it green and that’s fine for us because we have good seamers and we have good spinning options as well so we will be thinking of our own strength and what we have and what we have to work and we are ready for everything,” said Shahidi.

Litton countered the point by saying that they wanted to challenge themselves on a green wicket in Mirpur, having played on raging turners here for most of its existence. “Mirpur has had a turning wicket for most of the time. We want to challenge ourselves on a grassy pitch. We want to see how we can survive here and play a long innings.

“It is quite normal to want to play on an even wicket. We also have a quality pace attack. You would need five bowlers on such a wicket too. This is what I prefer,” said Litton.

He will be Bangladesh’s 12th Test captain and although it is a stopgap option, Litton believes that he has been helping out in the field as a wicketkeeper for quite some time. Litton made 800 runs last year, only the third Bangladeshi to reach that landmark in a calendar year in Tests. But there’s still some concern about his conversion rate.

“I have been doing this in the field for a long time, so it is not really a major challenge. I will have to run things in the field. There’s a ‘captain’ added next to my name. As for my batting, it is important to have the focus. It helps you read the game better. When I get into that mindset, I want to play a big innings,” he said.

As for Afghanistan’s batting, Shahidi has to bank on memory, and recent white-ball form. “We have batsmen that we can trust. They did well in the past. We also have someone who played good cricket in ODIs recently – Ibrahim Zadran. Rahmat Shah is doing well. I scored a double-hundred in the last Test against Zimbabwe.

“We have other promising batsmen also and I believe our batsmen will do very good and we will keep improving day by day and match by match in batting department.”

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

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