ZIMBABWE TOUR OF BANGLADESH, 2018
Cricbuzz Staff •
Bangladesh will walk in favourites despite missing two of their most experienced players © AFP
Nothing’s going to change on the leaderboard when Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, the ninth and tenth-ranked teams in the world, indulge in a two-Test series, except that a lot might. Both the teams are coming off a string of losses in Test cricket; while Bangladesh haven’t had a win in their last seven Tests, Zimbabwe’s losing streak stretches to up to 12 Test matches, meaning that something’s gotta give in this series.
The first Test, which starts Saturday (November 3), marks the Test debut for Sylhet International Cricket Stadium, which comes to relevance just in time and offers a blank slate to two teams desperate to tell a different story.
Bangladesh will step into the series without two of their best players: Shakib Al Hasan, who’s tending to his injured finger, and Tamim Iqbal, who fractured his wrist in the opening Asia Cup encounter and continues to recover. Mahmudullah will take over as the Test captain, and in a new partnership with Steve Rhodes will try and put Bangladesh’s Test malaise behind.
Zimbabwe’s recent plight in the ODI series might be format indifferent but bad days aren’t. Under Hamilton Masakadza, Zimbabwe will look to turn the tour around, especially given they start at a venue hosting its first Test match. The three-day practice match was marred by rain, allowing only 66 overs in total and leaving Zimbabwe, who last played a Test in December last year, severely short of practice.
Bangladesh, though coming off two scorching defeats in the Caribbean, have won the last four Tests against Zimbabwe, and walk into the first Test as favourites.
What: Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe, 1st Test at Sylhet International Cricket Stadium
When: Friday, November 2 at 9:00 AM local
What to expect: Even though this is the first Test match at Sylhet, expect it to spin with good bounce. In the absence of their primary spinner, Bangladesh will look to inflate their spin prowess on a favourable deck, and especially against Zimbabwe, who looked short of technique in their limited audition in the three-match ODI series. A bit of rain is forecast over the course of the Test match.
Mohammad Mithun, who impressed in the recently-concluded Asia Cup, is likely to be handed a debut. Shakib Al Hasan’s absence will invite the spotlight on Mehidy Hasan and Taijul Islam whereas Imrul Kayes, who last played against Sri Lanka earlier this year, is expected to step up in Tamim Iqbal’s absence. Mustafizur Rahman’s well-timed recovery from his elbow injury comes as a huge boost to the hosts, although the decision to play him will be taken on the morning of the match. Mushfiqur Rahim will take the gloves, having been preferred over the likes of Liton Das and Mohammad Mithun.
Probable XI: Imrul Kayes, Liton Das, Mominul Haque, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mahmudullah(c), Mohammad Mithun, Mehidy Hasan, Taijul Islam, Abu Jayed, Shafiul Islam/Mustafizur Rahman, Nazmul Islam
Richard Ngarava, who was likely to make his Test debut, has been replaced by Christopher Mpofu after the left-arm seamer sustained a groin injury in the ODI series.
Probable XI: Hamilton Masakadza (c), Brian Chari, Craig Ervine, Brendan Taylor, Sean Williams, Sikandar Raza, Regis Chakabva (wk), Brandon Mavuta, Wellington Masakadza, Kyle Jarvis, Chris Mpofu
What they said:
We did not perform according to our expectations in (the Caribbean) and to be honest we performed badly (in the tour). We do have a big chance to prove our worth in home conditions and if we can do well in the opening Test by executing our skill, then surely we can take that confidence forward in the next Test – Mahmudullah
We would like to play a lot more Test cricket but we don’t, so it is easier to motivate the guys. It is easy to just tell them to go out there and put everything – Hamilton Masakadza