DHAKA: Given Australia’s inexperience in Bangladesh conditions – none of their 14 players have played a Test here before – and the hosts’ record at home of late, Steven Smith is wary of picking favourites for the two-Test series, stressing that this will be a tough outing. There is also the matter of Australia’s recent record in the subcontinent. The Bangladesh series, Australia’s first tour of the country since 2006, gives Smith and his team a chance to improve on their 2-1 series loss to India earlier this year, while adding more consistency to their overall performance. “I think it is going to be a great series,” Smith said, at a press conference after Australia’s arrival in Bangladesh. “Bangladesh are very good here. I am not picking a favourite. We have to be confident in our skill set and hopefully we can get our processes right and have a really good series. “Now it is an opportunity for us to change [our record in the subcontinent]. I thought we did some things really well in India. We just needed to do it for little bit longer, and consistently. This is another opportunity to showcase our skills, show what we learned over there and hopefully give our best foot forward.”
The series will also be something of a testing site for Australia’s squad, particularly the bowling attack, with an eye on the 2021 tour of India. Smith shed light on the reasons behind Steve O’Keefe’s omission from the Bangladesh tour, despite a good performance in India, and on Ashton Agar’s likely role as a second spinner after Nathan Lyon. “He [Steve O’Keefe] is unlucky. He did very well in the first Test match in India. He made contributions in the other three Tests,” he said. “We just see it as a bit of a time to try and get someone new into the group.
“Ashton has been around for quite a while now. He has worked on his art and become consistent. It will be fantastic to see him get an opportunity. It is obviously four years till we travel to India. It is always a tough tour for us. It is the series that I want to win in my tenure as captain, so it is an opportunity for Ashton get some experience in this condition with an eye to next time we go to India.”
Smith pointed out that keeping the pressure on Bangladesh senior players would be key to his team’s chances. Bangladesh have never beaten Australia in Tests. “[Shakib, Tamim and Mushfiqur] have played a lot of cricket and understand their game really well. They are dangerous so we have to be on top of them if we are going to have success.” Agencies
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