Be warned: Bangladesh are no longer pushovers

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The Independent Online

Bangladesh have lost 52 of their 61 Test matches and 158 of their 215 one-day internationals. But they will be no pushovers for England when the sides meet in March and April in two of the former and three of the latter.

There is, at last, discernible improvement in Bangladesh's approach to the longer game and on their day they can beat anyone in the short form. In the current Test in Chittagong against India they bowled out venerated tourists for under 300.

True, the conditions were wintry and hardly conducive to batting but Bangladesh were competitive. Their two star bowlers, the fast man Shahadat Hossain and the captain and left-arm spinner Shakib al Hasan, each took five wickets. The players showed their displeasure at being described as ordinary by India's captain for the match by greeting every wicket, especially Virender Sehwag's, with excessive jubilation. They have learned a trick or two.

England may say otherwise but they would not have considered allowing their captain, Andrew Strauss, to take a break against any other country. His replacement, Alastair Cook, has a tough task. Conditions will be alien to many of his players (though Cook led England in an Under-19 World Cup in the country), pitches will be slow and Bangladesh better than they think, and in their 22-year-old captain Al Hasan, Bangladesh seem to have unearthed an authentic all-rounder.

Bangladesh won their most recent two Tests in the West Indies (albeit when the Caribbean's big names were on strike), so they have form. They have notable one-day victories, famously against Australia in 2005 but also in the last World Cup against India and South Africa. No pushovers, then, but they should be beaten.

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