Ansari set for Test debut in Dhaka

Dhaka—It will come a year later than anticipated, but Zafar Ansari looks set to make his Test debut in the second Test against Bangladesh in Dhaka on Friday. But for a badly-broken left thumb, Ansari would almost certainly have played his maiden Test in the UAE 12 months ago. But, just hours after he was picked for the tour, he sustained the injury in the field, and was subsequently obliged to undergo two operations. Samit Patel was recalled, instead, and he played the Sharjah Test.
While Ansari enjoyed a decent rather than spectacular season for Surrey in the County Championship – he averaged 27.43 with the bat and claimed 22 wickets at 31.40 – the England management admires his calm temperament almost as much as his all-round abilities. While they were reluctant to thrust Jack Leach, the Somerset spinner, who enjoyed a more remarkable season – he claimed 68 wickets in the first-class season at an average of 22.58 – into international cricket, they seem to have no qualms about Ansari. The case of Simon Kerrigan continues to influence selectors in such cases. Kerrigan, drafted in for his debut in the final Ashes Test of the 2013 summer, was mauled by Australia’s batsmen, and appears to have never fully recovered from the experience.
Even Leach’s captain at Somerset, Chris Rogers, remarked that “emotionally, he still has a bit of a way to go” before he would consider him suitable for selection. He will instead be given an opportunity to familiarise himself with the England environment as part of the Lions programme.
Ansari, though slightly younger, is seen as more worldly and experienced. He gained a first from Cambridge University, and, having graduated through the England age-group system – he played for England at the Under-15, Under-17 and Under-19 levels – made his international debut in the rain-ruined ODI in Ireland in May 2015. He bowls at a relatively sharp pace, and, as a left-arm spinner whose turn will take the ball away from the right-handers, could prove more useful than a second spinner when England face an Indian top-order heavily stocked with right-handers.
Ansari fits the mould of this team, too, in that he can bat, bowl and field to a decent standard. Generally patient and compact in red-ball cricket, he has opened the batting for Surrey.
But, after a modest County season – his highest score was 53 – it seems Ansari will bat at No. 8 for England. That will move Chris Woakes to No. 9, and Adil Rashid, a man with 10 first-class centuries, down to No. 10. It seems Gareth Batty will be the unfortunate one to make way. There might have been a good case for resting Rashid instead.—Agencies

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