Dhaka: Bangladesh skipper Mushfiqur Rahim backed his team to come good against the West Indies on Tuesday, despite the fact they have not played a Test for 11 months. The Tigers played their last series against Pakistan in December, losing 2-0, and a rained-off warm-up game ahead of the two-match series added to their woes.
Rahim admitted it would be tough to play after a long absence from the Test arena.
"It's a big challenge since we are playing after a long gap," he told reporters on Monday. "The preparation is good, though can't say it was too good but we are training together for long and are physically and mentally okay."
Besides the rustiness, Bangladesh are also facing criticism over their poor record in the longer form of the game, having won only three of their 73 matches since attaining Test status 12 years ago. Their problems were further confounded when coach Richard Pybus quit last month citing interference from the administration, handing bowling coach Shane Jurgensen the reins for the time being.
The Tigers face a bouyant West Indian side who beat New Zealand 2-0 in their last Test series before clinching the World Twenty20 title in Sri Lanka last month amid jubilant scenes reminiscent of their cricketing heyday. Rahim hoped his batting line-up lived up to the glimpses of talent it has shown.
"All of our batsmen have the ability of playing big innings. We have world-class batsmen in Tamim (Iqbal), Shakib (Al Hasan) and if they can score some runs and others contribute, we will get a good total," said Rahim.
Fiery opener Tamim Iqbal and all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan have six centuries between them, and are considered to be Bangladesh's two world-class players. Rahim himself weighs in with a relatively respectable average of 29.01. Still, the captain did not allow himself to be drawn into making any predictions.
"It's not about win or draw, our aim is to play well consistently. We will try to maintain a consistency no matter how big the opposition is, we won't look at the result. This is the challenge that we want to take," said Rahim.
West Indian captain Darren Sammy meanwhile hinted uncapped left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul's inclusion as the Mirpur stadium pitch is likely to offer spin with bounce.
"We had a combination we used in the past but there is young Permaul who has a good chance of playing. He came here with the academy and the high performance centre and did really well," Sammy said of the 23-year-old.
Sammy singled out flamboyant left-hander Chris Gayle's importance in the line-up.
"We all know Chris is one of our most experienced players. All our batsmen love to bat with him. When he is batting it becomes much easier as there is no pressure on you to score. He normally passes on his experience to the youngster. Hopefully what he is doing at the top of the order continues to be beneficial for the team."
The second Test will be played in Khulna from November 21. The Tests will be followed by five ODIs and a Twenty20 international.