England captain Alastair Cook bats during a nets session at MA Aziz stadium on Tuesday in Chittagong    Getty Images
England captain Alastair Cook bats during a nets session at MA Aziz stadium on Tuesday in Chittagong Getty Images

Alastair Cook will become England s most capped Test cricketer on Thursday, when he will lead his side in the opening Test of their two-match series against Bangladesh. With his 134th Test for England and 132nd on the trot, Cook alone highlights Bangladesh s inexperience in the format, wherein they have had only 93 Tests since their debut in 2000. With such a serious imbalance between the two teams, what exactly are England looking for in Bangladesh on this tour? What is it that England will truly gain by playing cricket in Bangladesh at a time when the Tigers have generally been out of favour from their neighbours? FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Bangladesh vs England, 1st Test at Chittagong

It is not entirely Bangladesh s fault for where they stand today in Test cricket. Their neighbour and a cricketing powerhouse, India, have only played 8 Tests with Bangladesh in the last 16 years. The last time India played a Test against Bangladesh was more to fulfil their promise to BCB; a favour in return after BCCI had the Bangladeshis voting in support of the Big Three.

Pakistan have played 10 Tests, but it is Sri Lanka who actually have been kind on the Bangladeshis, with 16 Tests in as many years. But none among these three powerful Asian teams can be credited for getting where Bangladesh stand today. Now, a strong force to reckon with, due to their dominance in white ball cricket at home, Bangladesh is a strong team to watch out for.

England have certainly revelled in their feat in Bangladesh, stopping the hosts juggernaut in ODI cricket. Bangladesh, who have won as many as 6 ODI series at home, lost to England narrowly in the three-match series that concluded last week. But what it also did was to make the tourists feel vindicated about their decision to spend some time in Bangladesh, which was to help them prepare aptly for the massive challenge ahead the tour of India.

Had it not been for the impending Indian tour, would England have flown all the way over to the Indian subcontinent and just face a resurging Bangladesh? It is certainly a tough question to answer. Having decided 3 ODIs and 2 Tests in Bangladesh, England certainly gave them an excellent opportunity to spend ample amount of time in the hot and humid Asian conditions, acclimatise, prepare well, and head to India with a lot of local knowledge and understanding.

The scheduling of the tour of Bangladesh could not have come at any better time for England than this. A relatively new side with many fresh faces, England s decision to proceed to unchartered waters gives the novices in their side an idea about the Indian subcontinent, especially against a team which would challenge them adequately but not make them suffer, which India are expected to.

To understand England s objective of playing in Bangladesh ahead of their tour of India, one does not need to look beyond the fact that they give a large chunk of their attention to Test cricket. It has been years since Cook played his last limited-overs match. James Anderson and Stuart Broad rarely play in coloured clothing these days. These three men get the greatest of credit for keeping England where they are in Test cricket, even though the objective remains to become world No. 1.

This objective, certainly will not win the favour of their critics unless they register as many overseas wins. One of the wishes England would be having at present is to repeat their feat of 2012 tour of India. For them Bangladesh will be challenging, but not enough to deny them a series victory.

England s Test series in Bangladesh looks far more intriguing than what it looked before the start of the tour. First, we had to wait for the outcome of the ODI series which went on the lines of being closely-contested as it was expected. Having lost, the Bangladeshis are obviously riled up, and now, they want to hunt down England with as many spinners as possible. To understand this better, Bangladesh may go all guns blazing, but England on their part, look sturdy enough to not lose the Test series, and instead, get some quality practise against spin.

However, all is not transpiring as per England s plans. Anderson has been ruled out of the tour, and England will remain dreadful till the good news does not arrive before they jump over to India. Mark Wood was ruled out long time ago, and their traditional dependence on winning Tests with fast bowlers may not stand a strong chance with two quality bowlers missing. Broad, Jake Ball, Chris Woakes and Steven Finn are the fast bowlers in the side, but the attention will be completely on the spinners.

Moeen Ali, England s best spinner in the last two years or so, faces a tough task. So does Adil Rashid, as the next 7 Tests in the subcontinent might just play a massive role in redefining their Test careers going ahead. Gareth Batty has been recalled at an age where cricketers feel their best years are past them. Zafar Ansari, the 24-year-old all-rounder who has been competing with Ben Duckett and Haseeb Hameed for a spot, might just go the Moeen way of being looked upon more as a spinning option.

Nevertheless, the more the Bangladeshis fight, the better it will be for England. The hosts are believed to have decked up their 14-man squad with as many as four specialist spin options. One of their national selectors has already declared the pitch for the opening Test at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong will be a flat deck, but will it assist spin? To have the final ODI in their favour, Bangladesh actually had the pitch at this venue for the final ODI favouring the spinners. Seeking revenge, why will they not get a little audacious, roll out a spin-friendly pitch, and challenge England to match them by skills? Bangladesh have all rights in the world to think their spin tank is better at home.

It is a win-win for England either way. As mentioned earlier, they are not expected to lose. Forcing draws, in case Bangladesh spring big surprises, will not ruffle England enough. In return, they will get the highest quality of practise possible before they face the might of Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and maybe Amit Mishra.

(Devarchit Varma is a senior writer with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)