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Draw is Bangla goal
- First Test vs South Africa l Skipper Mahmud all praise for new coach

Chittagong: Bangladesh are eagerly waiting for coach Dav Whatmore to take over but are on their own for a two-Test series against South Africa starting Thursday.

“Dav is a very professional man and will definitely bring a change to Bangladesh cricket,” said captain Khaled Mahmud, who took over from Khaled Mashud after the World Cup.

Former Australian player and Sri Lanka coach Whatmore will start his two-year assignment on June 1 in a bid to better Bangladesh’s reputation.

Bangladesh have lost all but one of their 17 Tests since gaining Test status in 2001, salvaging a lone draw in a rain-hit match against Zimbabwe.

“But we are hoping to do better and aiming to at least salvage a draw,” said Mahmud.

“It’s very disappointing to keep losing matches, many of them inside three days, but we are better prepared this time.

“We are banking on our spinners to do a good job, but it is more important that our batsmen apply themselves. We can only hope for a draw if we bat for four or five sessions.

“We batted well towards the end of the one-day tournament in Dhaka and our team is more confident. Javed Omar, Habibul Bashar, Mehrab Hossain and Mohammad Ashraful are capable of batting for long.”

Bangladesh are playing this series with Sarwar Imran as stopgap coach after former Pakistan bowler Mohsin Kamal’s stint ended with the World Cup.

Whatmore will be Bangladesh’s seventh coach since 1990.

For South Africa, who are in a rebuilding process, the series provides a good opportunity to settle down.

Graeme Smith is set to become their youngest Test captain at 22 years and 82 days and the third-youngest ever in Tests after Indian Nawab of Pataudi (21 years and 77 days) and Pakistani Waqar Younis (22 years and 15 days).

Smith was named captain of a new-look side when the selectors decided to replace allrounder Shaun Pollock after he failed to take the side beyond the first round of the World Cup.

South Africa made the final of the Dhaka tournament with three wins, including one over India in the last league match. The final against India was washed out.

“I thought we improved as a team during the tournament and I myself learned from each game. We hope to make full use of the matches here to gain more experience,” said Smith.

Teams

South Africa (from): Graeme Smith (captain), Mark Boucher, Hershelle Gibbs, Boeta Dippenaar, Shaun Pollock, Neil McKenzie, Paul Adams, Allan Dawson, Andrew Hall, Makhaya Ntini, Robin Peterson, Jacques Rudolph, Charl Willoughby.

Bangladesh: Khaled Mahmud (captain), Mehrab Hossain, Mohammad Ashraful, Javed Omar, Habibul Bashar, Akram Khan, Sanwar Hossain, Mohammad Salim, Alok Kapali, Mohammad Rafique, Tapas Baishya, Manjural Islam, Mashrafi Bin Murtaza, Enamul Haque.

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