Zafar Ansari set for Test debut

October 27, 2016

Surrey all-rounder Zafara Ansari will make his Test debut for England tomorrow (October 28th) against Bangladesh in Mirpur.

The 24-year-old comes into the side in place of veteran Gareth Batty, with Ansari's left-arm slow bowling offering more variety to the spin attack than having two off off-spinners, as was the case in the opening test in Chittagong when Batty played alongside Moeen Ali.

Captain Alastair Cook said of the Surrey star: "Clearly he has the ability to take the ball away from the right-handers. One thing I've seen in the nets is he can bowl at good pace with good control. It will be interesting to see how he goes. He can also bat as well, which is good."

Ansari's batting will also be an asset after England were dismissed for 293 and 240 in the bowler-friendly surface in the first test, eventually winning by just 22 runs.

The second Test pitch is expected to be similarly friendly to slow bowlers, and the superior performance of Bangladesh's spinners was a concern for an England team that is still trying to fill the gap left by the retirement of Graeme Swann and off-field problems of Monty Panesar. Ansari was picked for last year's tour of the UAE to face Pakistan, but he missed the trip after dislocating his thumb. 

Ansari's debut will offer him a chance to stake his claim for a place in the side during the upcoming five-match series in India, which is also expected to be played on turning pitches.

Fans booking corporate hospitality for the final Test of next summer, when South Africa come to the Kia Oval, will hope he can also secure a long-term place in the side, particularly when conditions favour spin.

Ansari's inclusion will not be the only change, as pace bowler Stuart Broad has been rested for the second Test and Steven Finn will take his place. 

Bangladesh have only won seven Test matches out of 94 since gaining Test status in 2000 and just one of the 14 matches they have played at Mirpur, a thrilling three-wicket win in a low-scoring clash with Zimbabwe two years ago.

By Keith Prowse

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