Bangladesh have narrowed the gap in skills with Pakistan, but they are still some way off acquiring the mental steel needed to turn corners, handle clutch moments and win Tests. The Dhaka Test is the home side's last chance to pose the visitors a stern challenge and turn things around for themselves.
Pakistan's approach to difficult situations helped them dominate most of the Chattogram Test. When Mushfiqur Rahim and Liton Das put together 206 runs for the fifth wicket in the first innings, they responded with a strong showing on the second morning. When Bangladesh bowled Pakistan out for 286 in their first dig, their bowlers again got them back in the game.
Shaheen Shah Afridi and Hasan Ali didn't just bowl exciting deliveries to get the wickets, they also put together a bowling partnership that left very little wiggle room for the Bangladesh line-up. Such was their dominance over Bangladesh's top four that the rest of the batting order was left scrambling to compile a big effort.
Abid Ali was Pakistan's batting enforcer in Chattogram. Their gamble to try out newcomer Abdullah Shafique also paid off handsomely, as he struck two fifties in his debut Test. Babar Azam and the rest of the batting order will look to make amends for not contributing much in the first Test.
Bangladesh's batting is their major concern. The top order combusted easily in both innings, which included captain Mominul Haque. Shakib's inclusion will bolster the batting that was heavily dependent on Mushfiqur and Liton. The bowling, too, will be spin-heavy now that Shakib is back, but how they balance it with pacers is also a big question. The bowling composition will be an early indication of the type of pitch that curator Gamini Silva might dish out.
(last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Abid Ali more than made up for his duck against Bangladesh last year with his 224-run tally in the first Test, which included a first-innings 133. Batting like a solid opener, he shifted gears with aplomb, getting into his shell to see Pakistan through good spells of bowling and then opening up quickly to punish errors against spinners and quick bowlers alike.
Liton Das bounced back admirably in the Chattogram Test after the T20 World Cup debacle. His maiden Test hundred came at a crunch phase for Bangladesh when they looked down and out. For a player with an aesthetically pleasurable style of play, his inconsistency, though, is frustrating for Bangladesh.
Shakib and Taskin are set to return to the XI while Mahmudul Hasan Joy could make his Test debut in Saif Hassan's vacated spot.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Shadman Islam, 2 Mahmudul Hasan Joy, 3 Najmul Hossain Shanto, 4 Mominul Haque (capt), 5 Mushfiqur Rahim, 6 Shakib Al Hasan, 7 Liton Das (wk), 8 Mehidy Hasan Miraz, 9 Taijul Islam, 10 Taskin Ahmed, 11 Ebadot Hossain
Pakistan are likely to be unchanged.
Pakistan (probable): 1 Abid Ali, 2 Abdullah Shafique, 3 Azhar Ali 4 Babar Azam (capt), 5 Fawad Alam, 6 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 7 Faheem Ashraf, 8 Nauman Ali, 9 Hasan Ali, 10 Shaheen Shah Afridi, 11 Sajid Khan
Pitch and conditions
Spinners will definitely come into play at the Shere Bangla National Stadium. The question is when. Unseasonal rain is in the forecast from the second to the fourth days.
Stats and trivia
In the Chattogram fixture, Abid Ali missed out to become the third Pakistani opener, after Hanif Mohammad and Wajahatullah Wasti, to score hundreds in both innings of a Test match.
Afridi is tied with R Ashwin as the top Test wicket-taker in 2021 with a tally of 44.
Liton Das has the second most Test runs among wicketkeepers this year.
"Everyone from the subcontinent plays spin very well, so it is better not to give them a spin wicket. I think everyone else would do the same. I prefer a flat wicket." Bangladesh captain Mominul Haque doesn't believe using a spin-friendly pitch will help the home side