However, while the Men in Green started slowly, they quickly gathered momentum to sweep the hosts 3-0 in the T20I series, leaving Bangladesh to welcome a drastic change in format. The first of two Tests between Pakistan and Bangladesh will commence on Friday, November 26 at Chattogram, with the visitors entering the series as the more settled outfit.
Mahmudullah recently officially announced his retirement from the Test format, while superstar all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan was ruled out with injury and admitted that his body isn't as durable as it once was. Bangladesh will be boosted by the return of veteran batter Mushfiqur Rahim, who seems to have overcome a brief dispute with the board over his non-selection to take up a middle-order slot that is of crucial importance to his team.
Meanwhile, Pakistan will look to continue their impressive form in recent months. A few batting-order changes, such as the demotion of the successful T20I opening pair of Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, are in order, while Shaheen Shah Afridi will lead the bowling attack once more.
Since June 2017, Pakistan have won only two away Test series, against Ireland and Zimbabwe. With losses to New Zealand, Australia, England and South Africa complemented by a series of middling results both home and away, Azam's men will look to rise from the fifth position they currently find themselves in in the ICC men's Test team rankings.
Bangladesh vs Pakistan 1st Test: Visitors start as favorites despite potential spin issues
Spin is bound to play a big role in Bangladesh, with the T20I series a decent indication of the same although the pacers had their say as well. Pakistan, who have always been renowned for having a lethal crop of spinners, might be behind the hosts in this aspect.
35-year-old Nauman Ali and 28-year-old Sajid Khan have played a combined seven Tests between them, while Afridi will have company in the form of Hasan Ali and Faheem Ashraf. Meanwhile, Bangladesh have the services of Mehidy Hasan Miraz and Taijul Islam, who have much more experience at the Test level and will have a greater sense of familiarity with the conditions.
While spin might prove to be Pakistan's achilles heel, they hold a significant advantage in the batting department. Fawad Alam has maximized his second run with the Test side, and the presence of Azam and Rizwan greatly boosts the middle order.
Imam-ul-Haq has been in exceptional form in the domestic circuit, with his last eight scores reading 64*, 50, 6, 97, 8*, 109, 72 and 202*. His opening partner, Abid Ali, has scores of 7, 96, 158, 41, 81, 164, 122 and 45*. The signs are ominous for Bangladesh, who will also be up against Azhar Ali.
While Bangladesh are a talented side, they are in the midst of a rebuild, with the top order in particular looking very shaky without the experienced Tamim Iqbal. Pakistan should be able to get off to a winning start, just like they did back in February 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic curtailed the series.
Prediction: Pakistan to win the 1st Test against Bangladesh